AFTER TODAY THE Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) will officially be no more. Having deliberately shut out the local community from any meaningful say in the rebuild and then proceeding to botch it, few locals - if any - will be lamenting its passing. Certainly no one would agree with Gerry Brownlee that CERA's performance is worthy of a 7.5 out of 10.
But there is no cause for celebration. While supporters of Mayor Lianne Dalziel are claiming that it will be 'better' under the new organisation, Regenerate Christchurch, there is no reason to think that this will be the case.
According to Dalziel Regenerate Christchurch represents a "real partnership between the council and the Crown and it represents a real opportunity for the city."
This is just spin, something we've come to expect from Dalziel. The truth is that this 'real partnership' consists of three council appointed members on the Regenerate Christchurch board - and they all from the commercial sector. And to ensure nothing slips through that contradicts the government's corporate agenda, Gerry Brownlee has the right of veto on all decisions passed.
It is also of concern that 100 CERA workers - from a staff of 170 -- have simply transferred across to the new recovery organisations. This is just a case of bureaucratic musical chairs but its been passed off as some kind of improvement on the previous model.
Having consistently attacked CERA, former mayor Garry Moore is backing Regenerate Christchurch.
Last year Moore, along with architectural designer Barnaby Bennett, was one of the founders of Option 3+, which called for a 'locally led recovery'. Moore said the group was about 'capturing our city back from Wellington hands.'
It called for the recovery's control to be "returned to the people and communities that make up the city". But despite the fact that Regenerate Christchurch does no such thing, it still has the backing of people like Moore and Bennett.
There has certainly been a rightward shift in Bennett's position. Last year he wrote:
One powerful and common theme that motivated the "locally-led recovery" movement is that when things are led by local groups and local organisations they almost always work and have the right values, scale, and direction at heart. When things come down from above, esp. when the giant forces of government machinery and the many competing conflicts of political, economy and egos that it brings invariably there are costs over runs, bad decisions and delays.
The Labour Party's hand in all this is obvious. Option 3+ is pretty much a Labour front and Labour has failed to provide any meaningful opposition to the corporate-approved rebuild and is now supporting it. Last time I looked, Barnaby Bennett was praising Mayor Lianne Dalziel for the good job she was doing 'in difficult circumstances'. This the same Dalziel who remains firmly in support of the corporate central city blueprint and has every intention, against the wishes so the local community, to sell ratepayer owned assets to help pay for it.
Five years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the quakes, there was some discussion about community alliances and actions to influence the direction of the city rebuild. Certainly the goal was for a rebuild that was controlled at the grassroots level.
That this has all come to nought suggests that only a powerful, unified, and organised political opposition contesting for power could of ever hoped to lead an altogether different 'regeneration'. That determined political opposition has obviously been absent in Christchurch and we're left with the mess that we've got now.