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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GUEST OPINION: Most in Christchurch don't care about World Cup

GUEST OPINION: Most in Christchurch don't care about World Cup

Layton Duncan runs Epicentre, a central Christchurch “co-work” space that rents desks to start-ups, independents and freelancers by the month, and also houses his own company - iPhone and iPad developer Polar Bear Farm. His family owns a printing business in the city, Rainbow Print.

For all the recent discussion around Christchurch's role in the Rugby World Cup, I doubt it rates as even a minor concern of most residents of this city.

I admire Bob Parker's tenacity in pitching to retain the event here.

It makes for a somewhat romantic, dramatic story of a city overcoming the odds. 

But frankly the Rugby World Cup means nothing to me.

It doesn't fill me with any particular national pride. Hosting, winning, or losing it doesn't determine my mood.

Hosting some games down here won't in any way help me deal with the challenges we face down here, despite what trite media rhetoric may suggest.

It's a game whose consequences are meaningless. I couldn't care less about the Rugby World Cup.

What I do care deeply about is the city I'll be living in, and helping rebuild, over the coming years.

I care what comes of the devastation here. I fear that the opportunity we now have will be squandered.

I fear that misinformation and reactionary irrationality will shape the future of our city for the worse.

I fear the make do "number 8 wire" mentality will sell our city short. That the response will not be substantial and inspired enough.

We need the help of the smartest and most talented people in the world to rebuild our city.

Residents need to be educated in urban design and planning so they can feel part of the process, and contribute in a useful, informed way. Our city needs to be able to support millions of residents in the future and we must design for that.

I challenge the Christchurch City Council to organise and host the world's best urban design and planning conference here in Christchurch.

Do whatever it takes to gather the world's absolute best to discuss and present the latest ideas in the field. Create a truly remarkable event.

Open it up to the residents of our city to learn about the processes and rationals behind the decisions and choices which will be made in the coming months and years. Organise something that we can be proud of, something worth caring about, and something to inspire the greatest rebuild of a city ever.

We simply can't afford not to do this.

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