Mayor Lianne Dalziel's appearance on New Brighton beach this Friday is not universally welcomed by the local community...
THIS FRIDAY Mayor Lianne Dalziel will attend a dawn ceremony on New Brighton beach to mark the fifth anniversary of the Christchurch quakes.
Her decision to parachute into New Brighton has not been well received by much of the local community. There is an underlying sense of anger and frustration directed fairly and squarely at the Christchurch City Council because of its failure to address the myriad of problems that folk in New Brighton and the eastern suburbs confront everyday. Yet this is the same council that demands that homeowners in the area pay some 27 percent more in rates over the next four years.
People are fully justified in asking why they should be burdened with such a huge rates rise when so little money is being invested in their community.
New Brighton itself is a suburb in a state of dilapidation.
Houses and roads remain unrepaired, five years after the quakes. It could be as long as thirty years before the roads are fixed. Some locals now refer to them, only half in jest, as 'goat tracks'.
The main retail area, the New Brighton Mall, is unkempt and rundown. There were few patrons in the shops when I was in the mall on Monday. Many shops stand empty.
Just three months ago Lianne Dalziel was shedding tears in public in response to criticisms from residents in the Eastside. In submissions on the Long term Plan, Dalziel and her council were roundly attacked for failing to deliver for east Christchurch.
Dalziel's response, amidst the tears, was to apologise. She promised to do better.
But little has changed since then and Dalziel displayed none of her earlier contriteness in her response to criticisms of her scheduled appearance on New Brighton beach .
"I don't mind if people don't find my intentions credible',' she retorted. And curiously she added . ' I personally believe the challenge of getting to Brighton will open people's eyes to what we are facing on the east and that the sunrise offers hope.'
But folk who live in the east don't need their eyes opened to what they are facing and, after five years, local residents need more than just waffle about sunrises.
Certainly a Southshore resident Michele McCormack doesn't need her eyes opened. She wrote in The Press this week:
" I drive over rough roads every day and in fact, have never been able to drive directly to my home since the first shake. We have lost most of the community facilities in our area which are a huge loss. I have watched my community disintegrate and change around me and long to get out. I was part of a large whanau down here for many years but am the only one left - the lone Mac on the Spit. It all feels incredibly sad."
The level of antagonism directed toward Dalziel and her council has ratcheted up further with its proposed coastal hazard zones.
Some 18000 properties have been identified as susceptible to coastal flooding and erosion and the coastal hazard zones would mean residents will only be able to build in those areas if they can prove they can protect the properties from coastal hazards.
The newly formed Christchurch Coastal Residents United Group says that the hazard zones would have a huge impact on house prices and would impact negatively on communities as a whole.
CCRU says that the Christchurch City Council is looking to 'red zone' communities by stealth and the proposed coastal zones are one the reasons why it is reluctant to spend any money in the area.