Protecting Canterbury’s “lifeline” infrastructure from the worst

EQC have released a report The Value of Lifeline Seismic Risk Mitigation in Christchurch. It is available in two versions: a Summary Report and a Full Report. They can be downloaded from here. Commissioned by EQC, the report identifies significant benefits from seismic strengthening and collaboration initiatives in Christchurch following a 1997 review, Risks and Realities. EQC have, over a number of years, funded a large amount of research into natural disasters, preparedness, and disaster recovery.  The extent, competence, and value of this part of their activities has been lost sight of in the last 18 months due the absence of such qualities in EQC’s bread and butter role. That 1997 review arose from work commenced in the early 1990s by the Christchurch Engineering Lifelines Group who had identified vulnerabilities in “lifelines” such as electricity and other parts of the city’s infrastructure.  Lifeline utilities are defined in the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002. From the Summary Report:

The substantial programme of seismic mitigation fostered by the Canterbury Lifeline Utilities Group and undertaken by Christchurch lifeline utilities over many years, served Christchurch well in reducing earthquake losses and facilitating emergency responses and recovery. The damage would have been greater and the response slower if the preparatory work fostered by the Group had not been undertaken.

In terms of ensuring Christchurch is well prepared for any future disaster it is a very useful document against which to assess the level of preparedness built into public and private sector development plans.

Major road works on Woodham Road

Major infrastructure work (sewer renewal) along Woodham Road will begin on Monday morning (14th) and is expected to finish within 4 months. The map below shows the extent of the work that will be done. The first phase starts at Tancred street and heads east. 

From the Infrastructure Rebuild website:

Full traffic management will be in place as detailed below.
  • This work will start Monday 14 November.  We will be working Monday to Friday between the hours of 7am to 5pm, and on Saturdays between the hours of 7am to 3pm. On rare occasions we may have to work on a Sunday to complete essential work.
  • We expect the work to take about four months to complete, subject to favourable weather and on-site conditions.
  • This first phase of works will commence between Gloucester Street and Tancred Street, and extend east to the Ngarimu Street / Woodham Road intersection. 
  • This work will impact on traffic movements.  The following traffic management will be in place:
    • One-way east-bound traffic will be maintained along Woodham Road throughout this phase of the works. Please take care when exiting your property to ensure you travel in the correct direction.
    • Between Gloucester Street and Tancred Street, the west-bound traffic lane along Woodham Road will be closed.  A detour route via Gloucester Street and Linwood Avenue will be sign posted.
    • When the work site is extended east to Ngarimu Street, west-bound traffic will be detoured via Worcester Street, Surrey Street, and Gloucester Street to Linwood Avenue.
    • Provision will be made for parking and access to the doctor’s surgery on the Gloucester Street / Woodham Road intersection.
    • On-street parking will not be available in the vicinity of the works to maintain a safe traffic lane.
    • Full signage will clearly indicate detours.

• An update notice explaining progress with the works towards Avonside Drive, and further traffic detours, will be circulated early in 2012.

 Full details are available on the Infrastructure Rebuild website here.

Central Library update

The following is from the Central Library’s website (here). The last sentence of the last paragraph makes particularly interesting reading.

Central Library on Gloucester Street remains closed

24 August 2011

Christchurch City Council has received a detailed engineering evaluation of the Central Library in Gloucester Street following the February and June earthquakes.

The report shows the building performed well and is not an earthquake risk. There is some non-structural damage to the building, such as cracking, including the floor slab on the library’s ground floor. A number of other buildings near the library are also damaged and awaiting demolition or further assessment. There is currently no timeline for those demolitions.

We appreciate your continued support and would encourage you to visit our newest central city library, the Central South City Library. The library is in a refurbished store in South City Mall in Colombo Street. Keep an eye out on this website for more details on another new library planned for Peterborough Street in the next two months.

CERA – Having a say on the Recovery Stratgey

Everyone has until 5.00pm today to make their submission to CERA, on what CERA considers to be the key points for recovery:

  • What is your vision for the recovery of greater Christchurch?
  • What are the priorities for recovery in the next year? Two years? Five years?
  • How can everyone work together towards recovery?

There is time now only to do this via CERA’s website here.

I made an on-line submission last night. For what it might be worth here it is. As is often the case there are lots of words so click on the continuation link below to see all of it.

Q. What is your vision for the recovery of greater Christchurch?

For safety reasons a low-rise city with essential, social, business and corporate services and activities distributed across the urban area. A city needs a heart but too much concentration leads to vulnerability. Using the internet as a model it is possible to build along the same lines as long as the communication between nodes is suitably implemented. We need also to mindful of storm, flooding, and tsunami risks. We must not fail to plan for them.

Distributing services and activities also allows for employment and commerce to be closer to where people live and reduce the need for tides of traffic flowing into and out of a central point.

For aesthetic reasons that also bolster safety, greater use of wood will be encouraged. Wood can be used for multi-story buildings, often beautifully so. It is a renewable resource that can be produced in Canterbury as well as the rest of the country.

We should leave most of the physical reminders of the past behind. They are expensive to maintain and potentially dangerous as we still do not understand the long term effects of the shocks to URM buildings and their foundations.
What was great that needs to be brought back goes beyond september 2010. In earlier decades Christchurch was a city of low density and low intensity living. To a certain extent this can be achieved by juggling the need for population growth and the jealous protection of green spaces, especially with the city area, and most particularly where people live.

Also best left behind is the recent passion for developing Christchurch as a tourism destination to the exclusion of the  use and enjoyment of those who live here. Tourism is important, but alienating residents from the inner city renders it irrelevant (hence the growth in malls).

Q. What are the priorities for recovery in the next year? Two years? Five years?

Transport, especially public transport. Many are isolated from the rest of the city because they lack transport, especially safe and efficient transport.

Sewerage networks are essential for health, safety and comfortable living, as is water. Organising this so it does not interfere with movement around the city, and especially public transport, is critical.

A timeline. Soon we need to see a timeline of what is to happen, where and when. This is crucial to decisions about where people can live to fit in the mix of work, family, education, and social obligations and opportunities.
Employment and job growth is also critical, along with retraining to enable those who lost jobs to re-enter the workforce. Probably above all other factors this will be the key to short and medium term recovery. People with money can buy groceries, rent or buy houses, pay mortgages, educate their kids, and have discretionary income to buy or save as they choose. Freedom from debt and relative poverty will have significant health and social benefits.

Business support is less critical. Although the concept of “the market” is frequently discussed in the context of business support, the market is actually the buyer rather than the seller. Consequently the precondition to recovery in the market is to boost the number who are in paid employment. They, as “the market”, will be the ones to determine what businesses are supported. In the post-February 2011 world it cannot be assumed that the business and businesses of the past have any relevance to the future. Each and every one of them needs to justify its continued existence, and the best people to decide what is wanted and what can go are those who spend.

Q. How can everyone work together towards recovery?

Before CERA can think about working with stakeholders, it needs to ensure that the right conditions are in place.
A greater transparency would be the best place to start. So many meetings and discussions seem to occur unannounced and in private, or in venues closed to the public.

More information is needed. Much information remains restricted (e.g. detailed information about land decisions – why specific decisions were made, when White and Orange decisions will be made) and that which is available has little meaning. Recent transcript and videos on the CERA website are a great start but are useful only to the extent that they are timely.

Quicker responses to issues. Time is dragging on the release of information about the land zoning appeal process. The details of both this and the issue of limited information are specific to now, but arise from a culture that should not be continued when future issues arise.

Assuming the above is fixed, then CERA needs to identify who are the voices of Greater Christchurch. Ultimately a city is its people and existing networks are likely to have the most legitimacy. Determining this legitimacy seems to be difficult. During the aftermath of the last two earthquakes there was a move toward seeing the Student Army as an important voice, but not the Farmy Army. Yet many of the the latter have a local and enduring connection with Christchurch.

Determining which voices should have the greater influence is difficult, and political. For instance there is a noticeable trend to major involvement with business leaders and organisations (numerically small) and less involvement with people organisations (numerically large). From the media at least there seems to be little involvement of those who represent the biggest populations e.g. unions and potentially marginalised communities such as the un- and under- employed, tenants and the elderly. Yet, as mentioned previously these are the city, and the market upon which businesses depend.

The Community Forum is a convenient, if unrepresentative, group that has a statutory rather than political or social mandate. There is no reason why any individual or group should feel they are being represented by members of the Forum, that the Forum has any knowledge or insight into the issues that are important or most pressing, or any feeling of commitment to what arises from Forum meetings or undertakings.

CERA needs to get closer to the community, either directly with community groups, or through umbrella groups such as Age Concern, CanCERN, childhood groups, tenants groups, and taking the concept of Greater Christchurch to the full extent of its boundaries – Federated Farmers, Women’s Division of Federated Farmers.