1493250025064 - Peter Townsend: Keep an eye on the prize

Peter Townsend: Keep an eye on the prize

At a recent business leaders forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, there was discussion concentrating on where our city is at, where we are going, and what our challenges are.

Depending on where you are and what stage you are at, those challenges manifest themselves in different ways.

There is still a sizeable proportion of our population that is not in a good space from a housing and social perspective, which all of us have a responsibility to address.

We know there are a small number of people still struggling with their insurance companies and people who are “repairing the repairs” which is causing frustration.

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There are areas in our central city that are causing angst, particularly derelict sites, and issues around accessibility of our city now and in the future.

Of course, there is the gnarly issue of the Cathedral, which from an external perspective, tends to drag the city down.

These frustrations need to be addressed and addressed quickly.

There is always going to be pain building a new city after the most expensive natural disaster in our lifetime and there is inevitably a cost associated with that.

As the construction of our new city progresses it is important that we recognise why we are going through some pain.

It is also important that we move on from Christchurch being dominated and defined by being an “earthquake city” into the new Christchurch, with its existing and new offerings presenting a compelling opportunity for anyone who wishes to participate.

It is clear that 2017 is a tipping point when what the centre of Christchurch is going to look like is more clearly understood, with 75 per cent of the rebuild being completed by the end of this calendar year.

It is therefore timely to consider the unique points of difference that will make Christchurch the most liveable city in New Zealand.

From this perspective, it is important that we do not lose sight of what was in place prior to 2010:

The business leaders forum determined that we should move from being “stuck in earthquake related issues” and we should celebrate the progress we are making.

We need to put positive messages out to our employees and we need to move away from our city being defined by the earthquakes.

We need to reinforce what makes us attractive and different from any other city in New Zealand or beyond. Those differences are generally positive and underpin opportunity.

Our city of the future will be defined by the experiences of its residents and its visitors.

Members of the business leaders forum all affirmed that they were in Christchurch because it was the best place to live and bring up their families, and how important it was to share this message.

Peter Townsend is the chief executive of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.


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