New Christchurch aims to be earth­quake- proof

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

CHRISTCHURCH’S pic­turesque town cen­tre crum­bled in a vi­o­lent Fe­bru­ary quake but the CBD that re­places it could be the most shake­proof in the world.

Mayor Bob Parker made the prom­ise as the New Zealand gov­ern­ment un­veiled a mas­sive re­cov­ery pro­ject to re­store the South Is­land cen­tre to its for­mer glory.

The five-year op­er­a­tion has a huge job ahead . The 6.3-mag­ni­tude quake struck at lunchtime on Fe­bru­ary 22, killing an un­con­firmed 182 peo­ple and vir­tu­ally flat­ten­ing the CBD.

Dozens of del­i­cate his­toric build­ings, many in the gothic style cel­e­brated by tourists and lo­cals alike, were de­stroyed in the disas­ter. The most fa­mous of them, the cathe­dral, lost its spire and will take years to re­store.

The city’s 380,000 res­i­dents have suf­fered blow af­ter blow since the disas­ter.

There has been a con­stant stream of job losses as hard­hit busi­nesses strug­gle to stay a float and on­goi ng is­sues with sew­er­age and wa­ter are the cause of great ex­pense and in­con­ve­nience.

Res­i­dents had hoped the op­por­tu­nity to help host this year’s Rugby World Cup in Septem­ber would pro­vide a much-needed fi­nan­cial and emo­tional boost for the town.

But it wasn’t to be. The rights were stripped when a re­port on the city’s sta­dium showed ma­jor dam­age that could not be re­paired in the tight time frame.

The an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day of a sin­gle stand-alone body, the Can­ter­bury Earth- quake Re­cov­ery Au­thor­ity, to lead the re­cov­ery ef­fort has buoyed many who were frus­trated with the lack of progress so far.

But Mr Parker warned that a trans­for­ma­tion of the dev­as­tated CBD would be far from im­me­di­ate.

‘‘ Our ultimate goal is to build the most earth­quake­safe city in the world,’’ he said.

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