He has asked me to focus in particular on the Canterbury rebuild related issues and to comment on the findings of the survey, as well as:
- the priorities for 2016, with an update on progress
- the topic of ‘rebuild fatigue’ and
- the need for a ‘vision’ for the rebuild
“A fresh perspective is necessary at this phase in the rebuild. As an industry we need to remain dynamic; creating new opportunities and actively working to integrate community with our built environment in a truly world class way.”
And that's where I'd like to start. Despite some of the reflections in the report, we have an incredible opportunity in front of us.
The shift from recovery to regeneration has been characterised as the shift from central government control to local leadership. But it is more than that.
It signals a step change. There is not only the talk about collaboration between central and local government, but also a vehicle to deliver it.
This is tangible and it is real.
The Minister and I will jointly appoint the chair of Regenerate Christchurch. The board will have three others appointed by Council, including the chair of Development Christchurch Ltd and the government will appoint two, including the chair of Crown Co and Ngai Tahu will appoint a member of the Board as well.
The involvement of the chairs of our two development companies - the Council's and the Crown's shows how joined up this is meant to be.
I hope that business takes the time to make a submission on the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill - the principles are all there but the detail has work to be done to deliver the step change we have all wanted to see.
The first task of Regenerate Christchurch will be the refresh of the Blueprint. This is not a review of the anchor projects - Crown Co has been set up to deliver the Convention Centre, the Metro Sports Facility, the Eastern Frame Residential Development and the Avon Otakaro River Precinct - I am told they are raring to go.
It's not a rewrite either - not another Share an Idea - but a refresh - three years on what is working what isn't and what can we do to turbocharge the central city.
At the same time they get to look at New Brighton. Development Christchurch is already engaging with the people out there - there has been a lot of work done already. Private investment is needed alongside public investment. How do we combine what council has on budget with the investment opportunities that exist there? At the end of the Avon-Otakaro swathe of green from city to sea, (formerly known as the Residential Red Zone), the potential for the regeneration of New Brighton is enormous. Would a Regeneration Plan help? It could make planning much more engaging of the community but at the same time save months if not years in consenting disputes. If so then onto it - if not then no time has been lost.
There is a sense of urgency that I want to express to you all to counter the comments in the report about rebuild fatigue.
I was disappointed when I read these comments, but I wasn't surprised - I hear them a lot:
“The opportunity to build a high performing 21st century city is being squandered. There is a lack of vision for the longer-term economic growth of Canterbury.”
“New Zealand has one chance to build a 21st century city, and we are currently building a 20th century city.”
“The rebuild of Christchurch is a hinge point in New Zealand’s status among nations. It is vital for New Zealand’s international identity and reputation, as well as for our tourism industry. What is done with the rebuild will either establish our place as a successful independent country, comparable with Sweden, Denmark, or Singapore, or leave us uncertain of whom we are, for another 100 years.”
“The lack of green building leadership from Government will be the biggest missed opportunity of the entire rebuild.”
I understand this sentiment completely. But the feeling I picked up is that no one feels it’s too late to capture the opportunity our disaster has offered.
Hence the urgency in my voice - the call to action if you will.
We cannot sit on the sidelines and say it is someone else's job to show leadership. How did you get to hold the positions you hold without demonstrating leadership?
We can't blame anyone else - our communities told us what they wanted - a city that was vibrant and alive – a place where anyone would want to be, but a place that was uniquely Christchurch; distinctive was the word they used – one that honoured our past, but looked forward to a 21st century future.
The images conjured up by the word clouds were of people, green spaces, low rise buildings that allowed the light into our streets, sustainable buildings, a pedestrian and cycle friendly place that would be easy to get around, a business friendly place. The emphasis was on people and green space - a reimagined Garden City if you will.
We were given the mandate - but who didn't get swept away in the presentation of the Blueprint - it looked easy then. But it isn't too late. Remember what the anchor projects and the precincts were all about? They were to activate the city; to ignite the potential of building a 21st century city.
Regeneration will give us the chance to deliver on the sense of promise we were all compelled to feel that night. And we must all take on some of the responsibility for the leadership that will be required.
There are plenty of examples of places where the regulators don't require developers to meet a particular star rating, but they are all being built to a high specification, because head offices of corporates measuring the quadruple bottom line and their carbon footprint will not move into them unless they do.
Our convention centre will have to meet a standard to attract conferences when air miles are not the only measure of carbon footprintas I am confident will be the case.
I am saying that we have to lift ourselves out of thinking what we can't do, and thinking about what we can do ourselves.
This leads me to another quote:
“The industry aspires to procurement processes that encompass whole-of-life costs, but the challenge is to turn the commentary into an industry-wide step change. Low or discounted rates and prices offer little incentive for a service provider or constructor to reduce whole-of-life costs – costs that often far outweigh any construction cost or design fee. The concept of whole-of-life value extends beyond cost to include all outcomes returned by an asset over its life. Applying a dollar value to these outcomes shifts the dial further.” Geoff Milsom Group Director – Water & Urban Development AECOM"
I couldn't agree more about the importance of this. We have asked for a review of elements of our procurement processes. We were able to develop a tripartite alliance model for horizontal infrastructure that allowed us to deliver well beyond our BAU capacity as a council. But what about now? How do we maintain a higher capacity than the Council can on its own, which will keep contractors here longer, and finish the work that really needs to be done now?
As an aside, it is extraordinary what happens when one party is responsible for the procurement and another is responsible for the Opex - whole-of-life procurement would resolve this issue.
Although I think a lot about the future of Cathedral Square, I am saying we need to think outside the Square!!!
Your report invites us to do so.
A quote from AECOM’s Director Infrastructure Advisory Craig Burrell that I loved
“Disruptive technologies are being adopted ubiquitously across industry. Advancements in driverless vehicle technology, for example, are leading to predictions the technology could be adopted in just a few years. As we embrace this safer and more reliable form of transport, cars with drivers will be ushered off the state highway network, enabling platoons of vehicles to rapidly provide greater mobility to all citizens. The result will be a significant shift in infrastructure requirements in our cities. The challenge for industry as we adopt these developments is the planning approach; masterplanning will provide necessary guidance around intent, usability and efficiency."
We need to take this seriously. Why would we hardwire our city for technologies that may be redundant within the next 30 years?
Electric autonomous buses – that would be a stunning way to move significant numbers of people quietly and efficiently. But as a city it is the Regional Council that controls the specifications for the buses and the routes they run. This is nuts. Passenger numbers are falling at the very time we need them increasing. We need smaller electric buses now - but we are building infrastructure to support massive diesel buses that are almost empty most of the time.
I read Gordon Moore’s biography recently – Moore’s Law – he was the one who predicted years ago the annual doubling of transistor capacity and the exponential reduction in cost. It's easy to imaging that technologies today could well experience equally exponential increases in capacity and reductions in cost.
Looking at the Tesla Power Wall, I can easily see a smaller, less expensive but with greater storage capacity battery utterly transforming the energy sector and reducing a major cost in running a home.
Think of 3D & 4D printing. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine that – but spare parts wouldn’t have to be imported anywhere ever again.
The world is changing and it’s changing fast.
One of the comments in the report talked about growth expectations in aviation having surged with Christchurch experiencing an increase in optimism from 8 percent to 30 percent. The China Southern direct air service between Guangzhou and Christchurch which starts on 16 December is one of the incredible advances that we are seeing from our airport company that continues to go from strength to strength - an asset that continues to return significant dividends to its two shareholders.
The Council's commitment to a Visitor Strategy that ties everything together - economic development, tourism, international education, large events and conferences demonstrates our focus on delivering a 21st century city.
I am not surprised that the report finds a continued decline in optimism, down nearly 30 percentage points in a year.
As the report says this is a likely recognition that much of the rebuild infrastructure work is complete and that government spending is slowing.
But as one of the comments in the report said: “Stop kidding ourselves that it will all be sorted in five years – the rebuild has a generational timeline.”
Well we now have a re-generational timeline.
We have a window of time, as one of the respondents said, to be ambitious for our future.
I am ambitious for our future and really pleased that I could have the opportunity to respond to this report. In the context of where we have been and where we are heading, I remain enormously optimistic about what that future holds.
The last word I give to James Hughes, Principal Consultant, AECOM
“An emerging challenge for building resilient and sustainable communities is re-thinking the role of local government and the way it engages with communities.
Piece-meal planning results in poor co-ordination between land use, transport infrastructure and positive urban outcomes. The role of local Government in this is key – not in the traditional ‘hands on’ sense, but – as many cities are showing around the world – in a supportive role that sees truly community-led projects flourish.”