Milestone for red zone with trail opening

WELL USED: Walkers have already been using the Te Ara Otakaro trail, along the Avonside section.

Up to 5000 people are expected to meet in the middle on Sunday to celebrate the partial opening of the residential red zone’s first major project.

The Meet in the Middle event will be held at Kerrs Reach to mark the partial completion of Te Ara Otakaro, a city to sea transitional trail running alongside the Avon River.

When complete, the 12km long trail will run from Barbadoes St to Pages Rd, and will be accessible for cyclists, walkers, joggers and wheelchairs.

Organised by the Avon-Otakaro Network, Meet in the Middle will see groups meet at either the New Brighton Clock Tower or on the northern bank of the Avon, opposite the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, at 10.30am.

Both groups will then walk or cycle to meet at Kerrs Reach at noon for the free event, which will have live music, food, information stalls and a regatta.

New Zealand soul singer Hollie Smith will headline the live music. Folk band The Eastern’s Adam McGrath will also play.

Canterbury and Union Rowing Clubs, Arawa Canoe Club, Aoraki Dragons and Te Waka Pounamu crews will all compete in the regatta.

Avon-Otakaro Network spokesman Evan Smith said the partial opening was a milestone.

“It’s important to get people engaged again in the red zone around the river. For a long time it’s been a scar in the landscape in the east, but it’s time now for that to heal.”

He said the trail still needed to be completed from the Avondale Bridge to New Brighton, although many people had already been using the other sections.

The date was chosen because it coincided with The Breeze Walking Festival, Biketober, Mental Health Week, school holidays and heritage and conservation weeks.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Minister supporting greater Christchurch regeneration Nicky Wagner will lead the group from the central city, while Christchurch East MP Poto Williams and network chairman Teoti Jardine will lead those coming from New Brighton.

The work to construct the trail is coinciding with the city council’s upgrade of temporary stopbanks next to the river.

City Care has done pro bono work on it, alongside a $50,000 grant from the Ministry of Social Development.

It is not yet known how long the trail will remain, because the future location of stopbanks has not been decided.

• Meet in the Middle
will be held on Sunday, from 11am-3pm, with access from Hockey Lane. Those walking will meet at 10.30am. For more information visit www.middle.nz

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