It is a real challenge to get across to those unaffected just how difficult life has become for some people in Christchurch. The most common response we hear from outsiders is “consider yourselves lucky, you’re safe and that don’t live in Haiti or somewhere like that“. And yes people are thankful for small mercies but the reality is that these comments miss the point completely- no we don’t live in Haiti- we live in a first world country- we have paid insurance premiums and we expect a level of protection commiserate with those premiums- wouldn’t you? Instead we are shocked and dismayed to discover that what we paid for is not what we’re getting and on top of that there is no Government assistance coming our way. Let’s take a look at the current situation in the red-zone.
For those of you who are not familiar with this phrase it refers to land marked red which “is unlikely to be suitable for continued residential occupation for a prolonged period of time. The criteria for defining areas as residential red zone are: There is significant and extensive area wide land damage; There is a high risk of further damage to land and buildings from low levels of shaking; and The success of engineering solutions would be uncertain and uneconomic; and Any repair would be disruptive and protracted“. (See http://cera.govt.nz/news/latest-christchurch-land-information-released-23-june-2011)
People expressed difficulties with their insurer and the Earthquake Commission as hindering their decision making process. In August there were 7560 red-zone properties. Crown offers were made to 2970 homeowners in the first round of land-zoning decisions which were announced in June 2011. In August 2012 the first of Canterbury’s red-zoned residents had to meet the Crown offer deadline otherwise the offer would expire.
The feeling among city spokespeople is that earthquake-hit residents in Christchurch’s residential red zones should not be forced out of their homes until the city’s housing crisis is resolved, participants in a housing summit say. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/7033013/Concern-at-red-zone-deadline). Some red-zone residents say they feel under pressure to accept insurance offers and do not have enough time to negotiate properly. (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/8041805/Red-zoners-call-for-more-time). About 100 Christchurch residents zoned red after an appeal in August were given eight months to settle, compared to about a year for other red-zone residents.
7560 people are going to need to be housed as they leave their properties. Yet there is a shortage of housing stock. The New Zealand Productivity Commission Report on the Housing Crisis in New Zealand 2012 makes it quite clear that land on the fringes of Christchurch should be released immediately. Yet the supply of land on the fringes has been locked down under Section 12a of The Regional Policy Plan. (See http://cera.govt.nz/news/2011/public-notice-canterbury-regional-policy-statement-chapter-12a-17-october-2011). There are of course creative Cantabrians thinking up ways of making this land more affordable for people -see http://www.cantabriansunite.co.nz/resources/file/Achieve-$50,000-sections2.pdf. But these solutions seem to fall on deaf ears.
In response to these issues Rev Mike Coleman has produced the following video asking for care and consideration by CERA and the Government for the people in the red zone to be given a fair deal and enough time to settle their personal circumstances … See http://vimeo.com/54589142
*****WeCan Media Release 17 / 12 / 2012 *****
Mr Brownlee extends his own deadline on Port Hills zoning review but squashes red zoners need for deadline to be extended
It appears any extra time Mr Brownlee and CERA need to make decisions regarding zoning announcements they just take. People have been waiting for months and still there is no word on what will happen to Port Hills homes waiting for a zoning review. Seems fair if they need more time to make a sensible decision then take more time.
However, when red zone residents who have only been recently zoned red in August ask for time to fight for fairer outcomes with their insurance companies he says in Parliament ‘unlikely’.
“ I personally begged Mr Brownlee and Mr Sutton on a video sent to them and media throughout New Zealand to give these stressed out people more time,” says Rev Mike Coleman, spokesperson for the Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network, “ we received no feedback at all from our desperate video and letter on behalf of really upset people.”
WeCan believes Mr Brownlee has the power to give himself an extension but people who are battling for their major asset in life against insurance companies trying to minimise their contractual obligations he refuses to give extra time.
“I am stunned at the hypocrisy of this decision by Mr Brownlee. He knows people have been unfairly called a repair in the red zone and do not have money to purchase elsewhere, he knows some are waiting for houses to be built, he knows many of the land subdivisions he said would be ready are well over a year late, he knows people are desperate yet he sits back and forces ordinary kiwi folk to feel the incredible stress of this April 30th deadline.” Says Rev Mike Coleman
WeCan calls Mr Brownlee to allow people red zoned to be able to negotiate a fair deadline for themselves for when they vacate their land.
Rev Mike Coleman, Spokesperson, WeCan
On the 17th December 2012 the red zone deadline was extended to July 2013 (See http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/8090678/Residential-red-zone-deadline-extended).
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