As the days go by, and people realise that we’re ok, we’re beginning to feel a little more comfortable talking about things. Criticising things. One such thing has been the rush to pull buildings down in the immediate aftermath of the quake. There has been a groundswell of opposition to this – in the media, letters to the editor, facebook groups. Now, this sentiment is being expressed in meetings. I was helping to organise one with the Save Christchurch Historic Buildings facebook group for Monday the 13th. Someone from Jim Anderton’s campaign was planning to do the same sort of thing on Tuesday, and told me so. Initially, we thought that it would be a bit silly to have two meetings running. However, after a little more deliberating, we’ve decided to go ahead. We think Jim’s meeting has an obvious political overtone, and may not allow for as much free discussion as we were hoping to have. Hence, we decided to go ahead and have a meeting, for people concerned about heritage buildings in town, at the Dux de Lux, Monday the 13th at 6pm.

Late today (Sunday), the council release a statement about a meeting that they are going to hold, at the town hall, Monday the 13th at 7pm. This is being organised by Bob Parker – a hastily assembled press release came out this evening. I think that 8 days after the quake, any pretense of bipartisanship has gone. To me, this looks like a cynical attempt by Parker to try and defuse the growing anger about the rushed demolition of buildings in the aftermath of the quake and aftershocks. The media release promises the establishment of a heritage fund, with a $1 million start-up donation from Fletcher Building. However, as my friend Cheryl pointed out on twitter, the idea of private individuals donating money, which goes into a fund that the council administers, for the benefit of the private building owners who can’t or wont stump up the cash to pay for their own private buildings, is a bit baffling. If the ratepayers of Christchurch are going to put money forward, why should those buildings that receive money for rebuilding or restrengthening remain in private ownership?

Here is the not so inclusive list of people invited to Bob’s meeting:

The Council is also arranging a meeting tomorrow with building owners, heritage groups, engineers, architects and members of the insurance industry at the Christchurch Town Hall to discuss ongoing issues and challenges with them.

No mention of the public, the citizens and ratepayers of Christchurch. Also, there was this vague, worrying statement from Parker:

“Out of that we hope to be able to develop a Heritage Rebuilding Group, comprising professionals from within the industry who are prepared to offer assistance during this time”

So this Heritage Rebuilding Group, comprised of architects, engineers, building owners and member of the goddamn insurance industry will be in charge of handing out the money that the public donate and that ratepayers stump up with? No thanks Bob, I’ll pass.

I did intend to keep this blog clean, and free of politics – but as I mentioned before, I think that politics is now back on, and it’s fair game. Parker’s mayoralty has been one dogged with problems relating to transparency, process and democracy – as he has admitted himself. This earthquake hasn’t suddenly turned Bob into Mr Inclusive. From where I see it, this meeting has been hastily arranged to try and diffuse some of the anger that Anderton was looking to tap into on Tuesday night. However, Bob has fallen into his old habits – running meetings for a select few, without due process, without even consulting council. Parker clearly thinks he is going to ride this quake into a second term in the Civic Chambers – but before we go to vote, we should remember what he has (and hasn’t) done for the central city. His two most infamous achievements will be the extension to the tram route – which will now run past empty lots where heritage buildings used to be – and the purchase of the Henderson properties.

The next two days will be very interesting. If you care about the direction the city is going to take, then I do suggest you try and make it to as many of these three meetings as you can:

Who: Save Christchurch Historic Buildings

Where: Dux de Lux Tavern Bar

When: 5:30pm Monday the 13th

Anyone and everyone welcome

Who: City Council Heritage Meeting

Where: Town Hall (James Hay theatre)

When: 7pm Monday the 13th

for building owners, heritage groups, engineers, architects and members of the insurance industry

Who: Jim Anderton- Rebuilding the People’s City

Where: Woolston Club, 43 Hargood St

When: 7pm, Tuesday the 14th

speaker are TBC, but I heard rumours of Peter Beavan, Ann Hercus, Anna Crighton, oh, and Jim Anderton…

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