Friends of Redcliffs Park spokesman Chris Doudney writes on behalf of the group about the decision to rebuild Redcliffs School on Redcliffs Park.
Redcliffs School proudly thrived at the centre of our community from 1907 until the February 22, 2011, earthquakes
With closure threatened, intensity of protest ensured that a decision was taken to return the school to Redcliffs, but in an apparent twist of spite, to another, flood prone site.
The board of trustees that had so stalwartly fought for the school, and had so fully justified the safety of the school site, found itself forced into a corner: the then Minister Parata gave it only two choices: a school on Redcliffs Park, or no school in Redcliffs, even though there was ample evidence that the existing school site was safe.
There is no cogent reason for abandoning the present school.
So why did the Ministry of Education want to spend $15 million on a new school and take away a well loved and used park, when it already had a good school well able to be adapted for a fraction of this sum?
“Psychosocial” reasons were all that the Ministry could give, subsequently refuted by expert consultants.
It seems that saving face and plain ignorance were the main factors.
A ministry official said that he “would not send his children to the school because of rockfall risk” even though consultants had confirmed there was no such risk; and he expressed doubt about risks of flooding at Redcliffs Park (it flooded twice in 2017) and even, bizarrely, cast doubt on climate change as being accepted science.
Redcliffs Park was to be sacrificed for no good reason in this game of political football.
It was always a wetland, which is why it was never built on and was set aside as a park, so low lying that it regularly floods, right beside the estuary with all its dangers to small children, and at risk from a Canterbury tsunami (which we now know can come without warning).
To action the decision, the ministry divided up the process into discrete sections, each of which limited the scope of the public and local authorities to properly consider the overall proposal.
Thus the city council was persuaded to give away its only waterfront park with no consultation on the alternatives for the school, and the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Megan Woods was persuaded to permit the Ministry of Education to proceed without full consultation required by the RMA (which would have required the Ministry to give proper reasons for taking the Park).
Meanwhile, the cycleway is increasingly used by residents and visitors alike, and the park used more and more.
We must ensure that the school is reinstated its present excellent site, happily in a matter of months, without the additional expense, delays and disruption of a new school build.
Time for a rethink and a return to sanity.