Plans for a $100 million dollar new Civic Palace will be given a knock on the head under a 2021 City Council under the leadership of Megan Woods. Christchurch 2021 will cap expenditure at $60 million (2007 dollars), a saving to ratepayers of at least $40 million.
This will restore the cost of the project to the original budget of $53.7m set in the 2004/2005 LTCCP with an further allowance for increases in building costs. Announcing this policy, Dr Megan Woods said it was based on official reports to the Council and independent advice she had received from professionals. Woods also stated that she “has been listening another important voice. The voice of residents and ratepayers. These people want to see value for their rates dollar”.
There is no doubt that the current Civic Offices are overcrowded and that staff need better working conditions. However, there are several cost-effective options which need to be considered. Some of the options involve strengthening and refurbishment of the present building, or a new building on an adjacent site. No options will be discounted, and importantly the community will be consulted under a 2021 council.
“It can be done” says Megan Woods, “Sorry Bob Parker, a flash building is not necessary”.
Council management would be instructed to comply with a capped budget and to report back on options for a more modest no-nonsense but effective Civic Office re-development.
A grandiose $100m Civic Palace as favoured by Bob Parker and other current Councillors is not needed and is not supported by the community.
Under a 2021 Council, Community Boards will be strengthened with better utlisation of existing service centres. Staff working within the community, can more effectively be based at service centres closer to the public.
Instead of sitting around in a Councillors Lounge, Councillors will be required to spend more time at service centres, being more visible and accessible to their communities.
The current City Council continues to carry out improvements to its Civic Offices, with revamped and expensive council chambers, replacement of windows, partitioning and new furniture. The option of retaining the existing Civic Offices but with refurbishment needs better consideration, including the ability for earthquake strengthening.
Megan and her Christchurch 2021 team call upon the outgoing Mayor and Councillors to halt plans for new Civic Offices and to direct its subsidiary companies; CCHL, VBase and Tuam 2 Limited to cease further work on the selection of a site and building plans, as well as the proposed financing and lease back arrangement to the City Council until the options can be examined by the new Mayor Megan Woods and her new Council.