There was a public meeting about the Red Zone on Wednesday evening at the Tannery. On the way in I got tempted to buy a pint of the wonderful Cassell’s milk stout to take to the meeting. After a warning that we were breaching their liquor licence we were forced to miss a couple of the speeches. When faced with a milk stout, or a worthy speech, what options does a man have?
Of the speeches I heard, and listening to the question and answer session which involved all speakers, and talking to others later, I drew the following conclusions:
- I’m not sure the Council has a plan about future actions needed in the Red Zone, how it will be managed and its responsibility. I’ve tried to find it but cannot. Does the Council have a long-term plan for the area, despite years of notice? Documents produced so far appear to have been produced by Regenerate, and not by CCC. I remain prepared to be convinced that I am wrong.
- The CCC sub-committee, chaired by Chrissie Williams, seems to be a toothless tiger. We were informed that the final big decisions will continue to be made by the elected Council, not by the sub-committee. Despite there being no long-term plan. Is this just a purposeless exercise of, yet again, shutting people up with no real power transferred to the community?
- CCC knew that this area would need masses of trees to plant years ago. They still haven’t organised this yet. Have they not heard of Trees for Canterbury?
- There is a heap of really well-intentioned, thoughtful and motivated people with incredibly good ideas for the Red Zone. They should not wait until the CCC decides to develop a commitment to what a long-term plan might look like. We’ll all be dead by then.
The other night I left wondering that delay and obfuscation will be the order of the day for the Red Zone. This Zone really is a special opportunity for us to develop something special.
My advice to all of the good people who care about this area. Organise. Don’t wait. Tell the Council what you all want. Demand to be listened to. Don’t get distracted by words like “developing long-term plans” or with sub-committees which will achieve nothing. Don’t be distracted by people who you are working with, who might be really good at arranging the mowing of the lawns, and possibly little else, unless you push.
When the park rangers at CCC are part of the exercise we will know that we will be dealing with people with passion and commitment. Until then be cautious.
Brilliant far-sighted people, like Evan Smith and team, have worked creatively and collaboratively for years developing amazing ideas for the Red Zone. It’s time to adopt their ideas and become swept up by their passion. It is our responsibility to back Evan up, and make this Christchurch’s next Hagley Park. Something to hand on with pride to future generations.
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