OPINION: Concern over flood and tsunami risk at Redcliffs Park unfounded

Dr Darren Fidler

Everything that makes Redcliffs Park a great site for a park, also makes it a great site for a school, writes board of trustees chairman Darren Fidler

OPINION: As Redcliffs School edges nearer to returning home to our suburb, we wanted to take the opportunity to alleviate some concerns and correct some misinformation about the school’s proposed move to Redcliffs Park, particularly around flooding and drainage.

The Ministry of Education has made it quite clear to us, and the incoming Government, that the only way in which our school can return to Redcliffs without further significant delay is to relocate to Redcliffs Park.

A few points on the current proposal given the concerns about flooding and tsunamis:

Everything that makes Redcliffs Park a great site for a park, also makes it a great site for a school.

The MoE has committed to improved drainage on the field. The photos of flooding on the field shown in recent media were either taken when a faulty valve was letting surging tides back onto Celia St, or in such significant rain events that pretty much every park in Christchurch had surface flooding.

At the recent Redcliffs Residents Association AGM, we were briefed by Civil Defence on the different types of tsunamis that Christchurch could be affected by. The school has had earthquake response plans and a tsunami evacuation plan for every site we’ve been on, and in this case, children would be evacuated up the hill in a similar time from any location in Redcliffs.

And to reiterate other information that is already publicly available:

The buildings on the old site were due for renewal and were at the end of their life. The MoE has made it clear that the school will be a new build, wherever it is.

Redcliffs Park is adjacent to perhaps the best walking and cycling facility in Christchurch, the Coastal Pathway. This means that once children are on the Coastal Pathway from Moncks Bay through to Mt Pleasant, they can walk, scooter or cycle to the new school site without having to worry about crossing roads or dealing with traffic. This is a perfect opportunity to reduce the number of people driving their kids to school, taking cars off the road, improving the children’s level of physical activity, and improving their concentration.

The city council has indicated that they want to retain some of the buildings in the south-east corner of the old site for community use, with the rest of the site reverting to park land to offer the same amenity as Redcliffs Park.

After seven years of significant stress for our whole community, if we can have Redcliffs Park redesignated by MP Megan Woods, then we truly will have regeneration. Our school as the heart of this suburb can return, with building starting in the third quarter of this year.

There is no perfect site for a school, all have their challenges, including the old site. But we’ve shown as a community that we can overcome those challenges.

Anyone with ongoing concerns is welcome to contact us directly, as it’s likely we’ve discussed the same topics with the MoE, Regenerate Christchurch, Department of Conservation, LINZ, or any of the many other agencies we’ve been dealing with weekly for the last few years.

•Feel free to do so by emailing admin@redcliffs.school.nz