Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

July 18, 2011

What’s happening with the waste from the CBD – and what the dog has to do with it. #eqnz #chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 9:48 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s staggering the amount of stuff coming out of what used to be the CBD.

Back on the 31st of March, the Council signed off on what the Civil Defence Controller had already done – letting the old Burwood Landfill and a bit of Bottle Lake Forest Park be used to take the debris from the demolition in the CBD. (If you want to read the full CCC agenda, google it – it’s quicker than struggling with the search engine on the council site.)

The waste is being stored and sorted there before it gets carted off to its final home someplace else. Some of it will end up at Kate Valley. Some will be able to be reused or recycled. Some will likely go to cleanfills. Creative uses are being sought for a whole lot of things  – liquefaction for one. There is a special discrete part of the park kept for “sensitive waste” – buildings where people are thought to have or known to have died.

We heard today at our council meeting that current earthquake demolition waste received at Burwood Resource Recovery Park is in the order of 180,000 per month, compared to Kate Valley’s last 12 month period which received 212,000 tonnes. Nearly a year’s volume of waste every month.

200-300 truckloads a day are coming in. About 25 tonnes of waste are on each truck. That’s 5000-7500 tonnes of C&D (construction and demolition) waste every single day. It’s mind boggling stuff.

According to the Council home page, estimated total demolition waste created by the 22 February earthquake:

  • Central Business District – two million tonnes.
  • Residential and suburban commercial zones – two million tonnes.
  • Repair of roads and water and sewer pipes – four million tonnes.
  • Sand and silt collected from streets and properties – 500,000 tonnes.

Those numbers are too big to being to imagine, aren’t they. Do the maths on the truck movements. It’s a big like one of those horrible puzzles you used to get in fourth form. “If there are two million tonnes of construction waste in the CBD, and each truck can take 25 tonnes of waste …..”

Today we were being asked to receive information about the process government may follow for an order in council to streamline the resource consents needed for the continued lawful operation of the Burwood Resource Recovery Park – the BRRP (I wonder if anybody read that acronym aloud when they came up with the name?)

Back in March, the Council decided to create today’s little extra process loop to endeavour to give elected members some input into the Orders in Council.  It didn’t achieve that. When we resolved that, the CERA legislation hadn’t been passed. Our little extra process added no value to the community today. It just created an opportunity to invite criticism.

There’s plenty of opportunity for that at the moment. Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the biggest natural disaster this nation has ever seen, pre-ordained processes have not always been adhered to. That is because they are not designed for dealing with the needs of a community in time of crisis. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that I would struggle to find anybody in the community who would support an elected member wanting to call a special council meeting before we let staff fix the sewers, or make urgent roading changes. We need to be practical, pragmatic, and perhaps even a little compassionate.

In the last few months I have thought at length about what constitutes good process in a time of crisis. I have come to the conclusion that you simply have to allow more fluidity, and with that accept more mistakes. With mistakes comes the need for understanding, not fingerpointing.

We can all look back in anger at the moment if we so choose, wail and wring our hands and gnash our teeth if we are minded to. I am certain there will be some things that I look back on and go “We screwed that up. We could have done that better.”

But at the time and under the circumstances, maybe we couldn’t have.

To set the record straight – if you read the paper this morning only very quickly you could have formed the impression that a monstrous profit awaits the operator at the BRRP. In Council’s experience (does anyone remember META?) that’s unlikely to happen. This is a difficult, dangerous, financially onerous operation.  It might well take a fair bit of dosh, initially. It will have to pay out at least a fair bit of dosh (and possibly more than it took in) for a lot longer before the need for the BRRP goes away. And in the state of national emergency, which is when this thing was set up, it was set up because there was a need for it immediately – the stuff from the CBD had to go somewhere.

We went into public excluded for part of the meeting today – not for any reasons of finance, and not just to annoy the media. It was because we were bound by a confidentiality agreement with the powers that be in the round house in Wellington about the specifics of the Order in Council which Cabinet will be viewing in due course. Generally speaking – gazumping Cabinet is not a good idea.

The only other piece of business we dealt with today was giving permission for the I-Site that was in the Square to set up temporarily on the piece of lawn in the Botanic Gardens to the left of the Museum. I have no difficulty with that as a proposition – anything to help not just tourists but dazed and lost locals will be very helpful.

I do wish the buildings didn’t look quite so much like the prefab you stick granny in at the bottom of the garden. Perhaps we should paint them hi-vis pink?

But perhaps I worry too much. I’m watching Pepper snore in front of the fire. Perhaps I need to learn more from her.

I took her for a long walk around the park today. She doesn’t care if there are great ululations in the tarmac and in the park, broken bits of pavement, half the houses empty. She’s not so hell bent on going in the river now – she knows I’ll say no. What she does is run off at a mad dash with her tail making huge circles, stop and turn around and then come running back towards me, wagging her whole backside, doing an impeccable nose down Hamilton turn at my feet before she runs off again. She still plays tag with other dogs, sniffs happily against every bush, sings the “wo-wo-walky” song when I pick her lead off the door knob.

To her, earthquakes haven’t ruined Christchurch. She’s not spending every waking minute thinking about its past or its future. She doesn’t give a stuff about construction and demolition waste except as it affects her ability to run around Bottle Lake like a lunatic. (Darling girl, unlike the Port Hills it’s largely unchanged. It’s time we took the bike out there again. You’ll really sing the “wo-wo-walky song” when you see the rack going on the back of the car!)

She’s spending every waking minute (some sleeping minutes too) revelling in the present. There’s enough unchanged in my Pepper’s life that her home is still unquestionably her home.

The food bowl is in the same place. There’s water near at hand. The cats torment her mercilessly. She worries about nothing more or less than that. (Except when there’s a stupid bloody earthquake like the ones we had last night, both of which were close, both of which woke me. Then the pair of us worry together.)

Her worrying stops much more quickly than mine. But then she’s learned the arts of the fireside nap and dream, the forgetting of needless regrets, and the setting aside of concern about things which may never come to pass.



1 Comment »

  1. Good article. I subscribe to the view that a positive outlook must be maintained but am concerned with the slant towards denying the reality for a lot of folk and for stifling cogent criticism (different to ranting). Unfortunately, unlike most dogs, citizens have to find their own way through the quagmire (literal and metaphoric) of life today in Christchurch and this doesn’t involve being led around by others with the benign thoughts of “Don’t worry. She’ll be right.”. Some of us have unliveable homes with no decisions on their future in sight, lost or dead pets, loss of income, perhaps total, stress and grief issues requiring counselling and/or medication. These issues cannot be lightly dismissed. I’m sure that wasn’t the intention.
    I commend the Council and particularly the doers for getting on with the job with the odd mistake (I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theories either). I slightly less commend the Government bureaucracy for not being ready to even start doing the job. We are told how hard CERA are working and I’m sure this is in large part because they started with a blank sheet of paper – not their fault and full of dedicated people. But, at some point it is valuable to ask the odd pointed question so that this generation and hopefully the next can learn from the mistakes made today.

    Comment by Malcolm McCulloch — July 19, 2011 @ 4:48 am | Reply

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