Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

October 16, 2011

Run, duck and weave – farewell Anne Cosson #eqnz #Chch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 8:37 am
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There is such intimacy in death.
You can work with someone for years, as I did with Anne Cosson, and it’s not until their funeral that you learn their age or their middle name.
Anne’s was Veronica, and she was only 42.
Her son Joseph participated in her requiem mass. I don’t know where he found the courage but I know his Mum would have been immensely proud of the way he comported himself.
Anne was funny, warm hearted, immensely good at her job and she loved people and community. One of the good ones, young Anne.
Although her passing has me sad and shocked, she has left me with a grin.
Her team leader Rod told us of a day when Anne and her colleague Ann were in a local business discussing a council matter with the owner. He became increasingly irate, to the point where both decided it was time to beat a judiciously hasty retreat.
Neither Anne nor Ann had realised until they entered his shop that a significant part of his business was devoted to firearms. It was with that in mind that the lovely Anne Cosson mused as they left the store,
“If we hear a click, do you think we are best to stop drop and roll, or should we run duck and weave?”
Goodbye Anne. I will miss your smile, your charm, and your great love for the people and the places in our little part of the world. You were beautiful and kind and loved, and you really made a difference.


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
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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.


April 29, 2011

Emergency over, CERA comes in, Community Expo, Prince William and the ASBO #eqnz

A glorious day in the Garden City today. Blue skies, ideally suited to hosting a Planning Chair’s briefing at home. Today’s menu – toast and marmalade, a grand test of one’s culinary skills.

Pepper and I proceeded then to visit Amanda and Keegan and with only the barest hint of an RP accent were the commercials for our finest FMCG establishments voiced today.

Following that, a return home to discuss barking the garden with the gardener (not the dog, although that could have worked too) before a quick hose down (ran to commercial voicing, active transport today) and a micro-pack ahead of this weekend’s grand adventure.

Now, it would not be appropriate for me to tell you where I’m going. A lady doesn’t tell. Let’s just say I’m not letting Prince William go without a fight.

(It’s going to be the battle of the remote in households all across the country tonight – from DUD, the Blues play the Highlanders, and then it’s the Breakers game. Meanwhile, across the big big ditch, there’s a Prince, a frock and at least one Queen – there’s a lot of that going around tonight, or so says Dorothy.)

I’m coming to you from the new domestic terminal at Christchurch International Airport. The CCC through CCHL owns 75% of the airport, and prior to the earthquake rebuild this was the largest single building project in dollar terms in the south island. The ITP is around $200M – it’s a strategic asset for our region and long overdue. She’s looking lovely right now, and I’m enjoying the free 30 minutes wifi at the cafe, people watching and wondering if in another year’s time the place will be a sea of hi vis vests as it is today – lots of workers going home for the weekend.

Some big news out of council today. I’m going to cheat here and cut and paste the media release that came out.

Transition from Civil Defence to CERA

29 April 2011

As the Civil Defence emergency comes to a close, earthquake response and recovery functions will be transitioned out of the EOC and moving forward, many of the key roles and responsibilities will be shared between the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), the Christchurch City Council (the Council) and other local authorities and agencies.

CERA will lead the Recovery strategy, policy and planning, and the Council will continue to be responsible for regular Council related matters in the most part and the coordination of the Central City Plan.

The Council will be responsible for water and waste issues, including maintenance of street laterals; portaloos and chemical toilets; roading and traffic management; kerbside collections; water conservation and restrictions, including the state of the city’s waterways which will be shared in conjunction with Environment Canterbury; and a rodent management plan.

CERA will be responsible for the coordination and planning of infrastructure.

Orion will be responsible for power and the telcos will remain responsible for telecommunications.

CERA will be responsible for all individual building inquiries; cordon management including access schemes for business, temporary and residents; demolitions, including debris management; the Cashel Mall Re:Start project; and business communications which will be shared with Councils.

The Council will be responsible for earthquake prone building policy; heritage; resource consents; LIMs and PIMs; CBD business putrescence cleaning; and flood protection.

Economic Recovery
CERA will be responsible for economic recovery coordination and skills/workforce planning.

The Department of Labour will be responsible for the Labour market.

Responsibilities for welfare will remain with the following government agencies:
• Welfare rebuild coordination – CERA
• Welfare / employment assistance – Ministry of Social Development
• Temporary Housing – Department of Building and Housing
• Health messaging coordination – Canterbury District Health Board
• Education – Ministry of Education
• Emergency repairs – Earthquake Commission (EQC)
• Heating installation – EQC

Insurance claims and issues will be the responsibility of EQC, Insurance Council New Zealand and insurance companies

Individual projects
CERA will be responsible for land remediation and will share the responsibility of the hillside suburbs with the Council.

The Council will be responsible for the Central City Plan.

Public Information and website links
The general public can continue to call 941 8999 for all enquiries and check the following website for updates:,, and other agency websites.

Here’s the next big of big news – it’s about how you can usefully share your ideas with the council at a big upcoming expo.

Community expo to start sharing

29 April 2011

Christchurch residents are being asked to start sharing their ideas for the redevelopment of Christchurch’s earthquake-damaged Central City at a community expo next month

At the CBS Arena on Saturday 14 May and Sunday 15 May, the community expo is one of the first opportunities for the Greater Christchurch community to start sharing their ideas about how thay want their Central City to develop during the next 10 to 20 years.

Mayor Bob Parker says he encourages all residents to take part in the weekend

“We need everyone’s ideas if we are to create a Central City where people want to live, work and play. The economic and social success of Christchurch relies on us having a vibrant and prosperous Central City, and we can only have that if everyone shares their ideas.

“There will be lots of different views and opinions, and not all ideas will be able to be implemented, but if we are to re-create a strong Central City where residents want to spend their time, tourists want to visit and businesses want to invest, we need to know everyone’s ideas and thoughts,” he says.

“From this wealth of ideas, we will develop the draft Central City Plan to reflect our community’s vision for their Central City.”

Following the Community Expo, a range of a stakeholder workshops, panel discussions, focus groups and social media events will be organised to keep conversations going during the next two months and everyone sharing even more ideas, Mr Parker says.

The community has until the end of June to share their ideas before the draft Central City Plan is written, and in line with Government legislation, is released for formal public consultation. During this phase, he says the public will be asked to comment on the content of the Plan, through submissions and taking part in Council hearings.

The Central City Plan will be presented to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) in December for sign off.

The community expo is on Saturday 14 May and Sunday 15 May from 10am to 5pm at the CBS Arena.

These media releases routinely end up on the Council’s website, and if you click the RSS feed it will automatically update itself on your toolbar – that way you’ll know as much as I do!

I’m delighted the news is out about the community expo – please book at least one of those days in your diary. I’ll be there on the Sunday: the Saturday is a long standing commitment which I’m keeping, but I’ll be reading all the feedback that came in, and you know where to find me in any case. Your views are essential at the first point in the process or we are not going to get the plan right as we go forward.

It will dovetail beautifully into the TedXChch event the following weekend – and I think there is room for many more of these events. If you’re a member of a professional body, a residents’ association, a school community – collective thinking is really helpful to the council and at the moment you have a great opportunity to really have your view heard.

Ears are open.

The Council is listening.

As I get ready to board my flight to parts unknown, a big wave goes out to those of you in the UK and beyond, who will no doubt be rattling your collectible tea caddies at the telly tonight. I was gobsmacked to find that yesterday’s blog was retweeted by one of the Local Government Organisations in the UK who have rather taken to my idea of forcible attendance at Council meetings for yobbos in receipt of ASBOs. (anti-social-behaviour-orders for those of us here in godzone – we don’t have them, and I don’t know that we want to. A badge of honour for little darlings whose likely 15 minutes of fame is on Jeremy Kyle. Bless them all.) Good luck with that – let me know how it goes!

Although the compulsory attendance at council is not a bad idea, actually. Almost worthy of Paul Henry? 😉

Happy weekend peeps – see you on the other side.

Blogging off.


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