The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has effectively ripped away the distinctive character of the city. Its own figures indicate that 157 of the city council's 589 listed heritage buildings are due for demolition. So far, some 87 buildings have been turned into rubble, gone forever. Of these 87 buildings 22 were listed as buildings with outstanding historical significance.
It is perhaps the scale of demolition that has added so much impetus to the campaign to save the Christchurch Ctahedral.This is not just a fight over the future of the Cathedral but also an expression of anger and dissatisfaction with what is happening to the fundamental character of Christchurch.
As well there is a growing suspicion that we the people of Christchurch have bees sold a pup. Some of the designs published for proposed new buildings have been rightly criticised for being bland and characterless. As one person commented: 'When did they did decide that Christchurch was to be transformed into Newmarket?'
As I've said previously I have had my doubts about the practicality of rebuilding of the cathedral but there are serious doubts about Cera's justification for the demolition.
Listener journalist Rebecca Macfie has pointed out that Cera's own documents don't justify such a rushed demolition. She writes
There’s no sign of any costings, either for demolition or repair, despite the fact that the bishop has suggested restoration would cost $100 million (others reckon $20 million would do it). There’s nothing that really explains why CERA and the church think demolition is the only solution, when 100 earthquake engineers have signed up to a document saying it can be successfully repaired.
As well the supporters for rebuilding the cathedral have done their homework. They have been put together a cogent case as to why rebuilding the Christchurch Cathedral is both realistic and affordable. It is not a campaign purely driven by emotion.
Unfortunately the Anglican Church, Cera and Gerry Brownlee have adopted a high-handed 'we know best' attitude. As far as they're concerned the cathedral is coming down This failure to engage in debate with the wider community is sowing the seeds for a great deal of social antagonism in the future. It would be fair to say that the Anglican Church has lost much of the community goodwill it once held.
As former MP Jim Anderton has commented: 'the Anglican diocese had refused to have 'any meaningful kind of discussion' on whether the building could be saved.
Meanwhile 'Bovver Boy' Brownlee has waded into the Christchurch Cit Council. He's annoyed that the council voted 10-4 to recommend a stay of execution for the Cathedral.
Said Brownlee: 'The council are very good at telling everyone else what to do. They need to shape up a little bit and get serious about their representation of the city,'
Of course he automatically got the support of his loyal right hand man, Sideshow Bob.
According to Parker its time to "move on from the beautiful old cathedral".
This is a predictable response from a mayor who has simply become a mouthpiece for the government's views.