Megan Woods: The All Blacks shouldn't have to play in the rain.
The decision to build a half a billion dollar sports stadium will be yet another case of corporate interests overriding the interests of the good people of Christchurch.

LAST WEEK John Minto, along with the Reverend Sheena Dickson, presented a submission on the Christchurch City Council's Long Term Plan.

At the core of their submission was a plea to delay funding a new covered sports stadium (priced at $500 million plus). Minto and Dickson want the council to use its contribution ($253 million) to replace the 400 council flats that were demolished after the earthquakes and still have not been replaced - despite the fact that Christchurch, like the rest of the country, is in the midst of a housing crisis.

According to the Salvation Army's 2017 Taking Stock report, Christchurch needs 180 new social housing units a year for the next 10 years just to meet demand.

But Minto and Dickson would find it easier to push water up a hill than convince the Christchurch City Council to take its social responsibilities seriously. Mayor Lianne Dalziel has already declared the sports stadium to be 'a priority' and the council itself is also in favour of the stadium. Labour-linked councillors who once regularly attacked the former mayor, Bob Parker, for failing to represent the interests of the people who put him into office are also putting corporate interests ahead of the people who put them on the council. Apparently they are not obliged to behave to the same standards that they expected Parker to behave to.

Meanwhile, writing in the The Star this week the Minister of Greater Christchurch Regeneration claims that the good people of Christchurch really want a new sports stadium and they want it as soon as possible. Megan Woods writes:

"Working in partnership with local leaders such as the mayor ensures that we are driven by what local people want and that we involve them in our plans to make things better. This approach is how we will tackle the delivery of the much-needed stadium.'

I'd be interested to know who the other 'local leaders' Woods has been talking to are because I have breaking news for her - Lianne Dalziel does not represent the views of a great many folk, especially in the neglected eastern suburbs where she is widely unpopular.

When Megan Woods was asked by The Press how likely public consultation would be on the $300 million earmarked for the city, Woods did not give direct answer.

The reality is that, like the Christchurch rebuild itself, the people of Christchurch have had no say in the proposal to build a half a billion dollar white elephant so that the All Blacks don't have to play in the rain.

Wood's might like to present the sport stadium as the product of democratic decision making but it is anything but. It is the product of the political establishment and the corporate sector sector working hand in hand in hand to foist a bloated sports stadium on the people of Christchurch who will see none of the profits but will receive all the bills. 

As John Minto observes: "Families struggling with housing are not as well-connected to the city's power structures as All Blacks and yet they have needs which vastly outweigh the need for a new covered stadium."


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