The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority is regenerating into Regenerate Christchurch. Only the Doctor can save us now.

THIS WEEK IT was announced that the much-loved (ha ha) Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) would be replaced by Regenerate Christchurch next year.

But unlike the good Dr Who, who regenerates into a completely new doctor, all we have here is one government bureaucracy being replaced by another government bureaucracy. And, like its predecessor, Regenerate Christchurch will be tightly controlled by the government and it will continue to call the shots.

If the Christchurch City Council thought it was going to take over some of Cera's responsibilities, then Gerry Brownlee quickly exploded those illusions. He told the media that the council might be allowed to take control of the city in five years. Perhaps. Possibly. In the fullness of time. Brownlee stressed that he didn't like putting timelines in place. Which might help to explain why the rebuild of Christchurch has been so mindnumbingly slow.

One thing is certain is that the people who live in Christchurch - the people who will be carrying much of the economic burden for 'regenerating' Christchurch - will continue to have no meaningful say in the rebuild of the city they live in. They have been shut out for the past four years and this will continue for the next four years and beyond.

Christchurch has degenerated into a very undemocratic city. Just a fortnight or so ago Mayor Dalzeil and her council supporters decided that they didn't actually  have to listen to what the people were saying and voted to proceed with a massive rates hike and flogging off council assets.

It's no surprise that Dalziel has been defending Regenerate Christchurch. She is in danger of turning into Bob Parker.

The decIsion making process is dominated by the likes of The Press, Pete Townsend from the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce and various property developers like John Carter of The Carter Group, Nga Tahu  Property and Cr Jamie Gough's uncle, Antony Gough. The rest of us are shut out and confined to shouting from the sidelines.

Indeed as Barnaby Bennett, co-editor of Christchurch: The Transitional City, noted some  years or  ago: 'This lack of democracy and public debate has been a hallmark of every level of the New Zealand Government’s Reconstruction efforts in Christchurch after the recent seismic disasters.' Unfortunately Bennett has recently been turning a blind eye to the obvious lack of respect for local democracy that Mayor Dalziel and her council supporters have been demonstrating.

The very best idea was that Christchurch was reconstructed by and for the very people who live here. But that, of course, hasn't happened. Instead we have been delivered a botched and uninspiring rebuild led by the same people cheerleading for Regenerate Christchurch.

As I said several years ago only a powerful, unified, and organised political opposition contesting for power could hope to lead to an altogether different rebuild of Christchurch.

But that hasn't happened.

In 2016 Regenerate Christchurch will be foisted on the city. Its supporters say it is a 'step change' but, in reality, it is little more than a shuffle sideways.

Perhaps only the Doctor can save Christchurch now...


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