In 2012, Lonely Planet named Christchurch one of the most exciting places to visit in the world. Gap Filler was a large part in that:

Don’t miss playing a few ends at the Lyttelton Petanque Club, a development from the Gap Filler Charitable Trust, a community initiative that’s reinvigorating derelict spaces around Christchurch. Another Gap Filler project, the Think Differently Book Exchange, sits on the corner of Barbadoes and Kilmore Streets on the edge of the CBD. Just look for the retro fridge crammed with assorted tomes available to swap.

The New York Times named Christchurch #2 on it’s “52 place to go in 2014“;

Though much of the central city has yet to be rebuilt, entrepreneurs and volunteers are finding surprising ways to make temporary use of empty lots and bring life back to the downtown. The Gap Filler program, begun a couple of months after the first quake in September 2010 and expanded after a more destructive second quake in February 2011, has created an open-air performance space made of blue pallets, a dance floor with coin-operated music and lights, and even a nine-hole mini-golf course in vacant lots across the city. The Greening the Rubble campaign has since the 2010 quake been planting temporary gardens on the sites of demolished buildings.

Prince Charles danced on the Dance-o-Mat. Roger Sutton rode at the cycle-powered cinema. The Pallet Pavilion become the backdrop to thousands of photos, including one of our incoming councillors. So I was surprised to see these complaints appear in the paper today:

Gap Filler is a “backward” organisation that should be forced off the former Crowne Plaza Hotel site, Christchurch City Council has been told. “Some people” see the Crowne Plaza site under Gap Filler as “messy” and “shanty style”, public relations man David Lynch told city councillors recently.

I honestly don’t know where to start. Maybe with a story that relates to the Commons site, relayed to me by someone involved. When the Arcades were being put in, an old man wandered past, looked at the arches going in, and as he shuffled off, mumbled something about it being “great to see the government finally getting something done”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Gap Filler is a true community organisation, one that has done dozens of projects across the city on the smell of an oily rag. Some of them don’t work. But when they do, like the Dance-o-Mat, the Book Fridge, the Pallet Pavilion, they have gone on to become the de facto symbols of the rebuild. They are the ground-up recovery that is pressing on in spite of the formal recovery.

If this guy loves demolition sites with nothing on them but weeds, then I could suggest literally hundreds of other sites in the CBD he might like to visit. If he thinks that moving the Commons from this site is somehow going to magically “cleanse” this site, then maybe he should ask himself why that hasn’t happened anywhere else in the city? I don’t know much about this guy, but he is clearly not as clever or nuanced as his film auteur namesake:

Lynch gives public relations advice to hospitality and other businesses on Victoria St and said he was certain they supported him but he made the presentation on his behalf.

I’d suggest that if you are employing the services of this guy to do your public relations, you start looking elsewhere. He’s taken aim at one of the most popular organisations that has been seen in Christchurch post-quake, with some poorly constructed arguments. Surely any public relations advisor worth his salt would have kept his mouth shut.


EDIT: Via Lyndon Hood, David Lynch visits the Black Lodge