Yesterday was another significant milestone in Christchurch’s recovery from the 2010-11 earthquake sequence. After 8 years of recovery today the Crown and Christchurch City Council released the Global Agreement that finalizes the details of the city’s recovery. It includes how much the City of Christchurch owes the Crown; who will take ownership of what as well as tie up lose financial and legal ends.
The Crown (central Government)have spent NZ$14 billion on Christchurch since the earthquakes and there is another $3 billion in funding allocated for future work. Christchurch City Council has spent about $3.65 billion so far with another $4 billion expected to be needed over the next 30 years.
The Christchurch Bus Exchange, Otakaro, the Metro Sports facility and the performing arts precinct will be given back to the Christchurch City Council. No one should be too surprised at the Crown wanting to hold on to Te Pae as they have agreed to foot the bill for it.
Some significant questions remain about how Christchurch will repair horizontal infrastructure. Long term repairs are still in progress for much of the water, sewerage, power and storm water systems. Projects such as the current work in progress on Riccarton Road are likely to continue for a few more years yet. The Crown has ruled out the possibility of any further contribution to funding the underground networks. Because of that, some sort of financial measure such as levies on people flying in and out of Christchurch, or a less popular rates rise are probably going to be on the cards before very long.
A second major concern is who will fund, own and manage any stadium that gets built. Given that stadiums are expensive to maintain and operate there has been pressure to make it a multi-purpose one that can host cricket matches or other fixtures in addition to rugby. The number of seats, which is currently a point of contention would also need to be sufficient that a capacity house can deliver a return. Currently suggestions are that the stadium be a 30,000 seat one with capacity for up to another 5,000 seats. Prior to the earthquakes, AMI stadium had seating for over 38,000 prior to the earthquakes.
Another issue that remains in the air is how the development of the old residential red zone will be managed. Following the demolition of the 7,000 houses that were condemned, or considered uneconomic to repair, the Crown took over ownership of the corridor of land along the Avon River that it sits on. It will be returned to the Crown in July 2020. A mixed use plan for it exists, but is likely to cost about $800 million to be implemented.
The Christchurch recovery period is expected to continue for another several years yet. Some estimates suggest that it may take 20 years for the city to fully recover. The New Zealand economy may take considerably longer, especially in a slowing economic environment and also saddled with the repair bill for the Kaikoura Earthquake of 14 November 2016.