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Monday, February 28, 2011

Better, safer, city will emerge from ruins

Last updated 05:00 28/02/2011
Two former Christchurch mayors believe their city will be rebuilt and it will be better, and safer, than ever.

Garry Moore said the Government should guarantee a loan scheme for businesses, as was done for finance companies. It would require less money than giving the businesses cash up front and would allow them to resume operations, he says.

If not, businesses would need the finance sector to step up. "We've now got a banking system that gives you an umbrella and when it starts to rain they take it back."

Mr Moore also suggested the Government create a bond scheme that would allow people to invest their savings in the rebuilding of the city.

A national levy, collected alongside income tax, was needed to help fund the rebuild of Christchurch and replenish the Earthquake Commission's coffers. The levy would probably be needed for the next 10 years, Mr Moore said.

"We all need to put our hand in our pocket to help Christchurch.

"Just as we all contribute towards the building of Auckland's roading structure, we'll do the same thing in Christchurch."

Christchurch now had an opportunity to build a model city that would attract people from around the world, he said.

Some people would leave Christchurch, but many homeowners could not afford to and others would eventually return.

To rebuild Christchurch properly a change in planning law was needed so it did not become the pawn of developers, planners and lawyers.

The new city would be a petri dish for the Government to change the way planning was done.

"We lost a lot of our beauty and that has to be rebuilt, in a modern way."

That would mean wooden, eco, three-storeyed buildings. "I don't want to see a brick building ever again.

"We do have a chance to do the new, green, environmentally sound, fantastically state-of-the-art, 21st-century place, that will attract the brains and the thinkers of the world to come and live here."

Mr Moore has suggested an international conference be held in Christchurch with people experienced in rebuilding after disasters, such as from Kobe, Japan, and Darwin, Australia.

Another former Christchurch mayor, Vicki Buck, said people were going to need some form of income in the next few weeks and most were not thinking much further than that.

People needed certainty for the next few weeks and the Government's announcement today would be an interim package with a promise of more to come.

Christchurch would be rebuilt, though it may look different, she said. There needed to be radically different buildings and earthquake codes, and Christchurch people would be "very wary of tall buildings" from now on.

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