Petition takes symbolic journey up Avon River to Parliament
Scores of Christchurch people will take the petition asking for a park on the Avon River red zone land on a symbolic journey up the Avon River on its way to Parliament next week.
More than 18,500 Christchurch people have signed the petition asking Parliament “to work with the people and local authorities of Christchurch to ensure that the Avon River red zone becomes a reserve and river park when the home owners have to leave”.
At 12.30pm next Wednesday (May 2), former Bexley residents Allan and Helen Campbell, with Avon-Otakaro Network (AvON) co-chair Mark Gibson, will deliver the petition to Christchurch MPs Lianne Dalziel and Eugenie Sage on the steps of Parliament.
The day before (Tuesday, May 1), the two hand-bound volumes of the petition will be carried up the Avon River to its Avonhead source and then to the airport, in a symbolic journey emphasising the river’s role in uniting the city.
Christchurch City Councillors Peter Beck and Glenn Livingstone will send the petition on its way from Christchurch Yacht Club at 9am on Tuesday. From there canoes, rowing boats, runners, walkers and cyclists will take it up the Avon River, arriving at the airport at 5pm to fly to Wellington.
“The Avon River is the beating heart of Christchurch, but the land around it has been the source of much anguish and heartbreak over the past 20 months,” says AvON co-chair Evan Smith.
“Christchurch people overwhelmingly want it to again become a place of leisure, prosperity and pride as Avon-Otakaro River Park. In this journey we hope to restore some of that pride and contribute to the river’s rehabilitation.”
Evan Smith said former and current red zone residents who wanted their former homes to become places of beauty and healing were among those taking part in the journey.
At Parliament on May 2, the petition will be delivered to Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel (who will sponsor it) and Christchurch-based Green list MP Eugenie Sage.
Eugenie Sage said turning the red zone land into a river park would contribute to Christchurch’s recovery.
“The river park concept links city and sea, and highlights the Avon/Otakaro as one of the city’s major natural assets,” she said. “A river park would provide better walking and cycling links across the city and be an accessible green space for recreation, sculpture and other art, events and enjoyment.”
And Lianne Dalziel said as a red zone resident she shared AvON’s ambition for this land.
“I want to know that the place I chose for my home in Christchurch East more than a decade ago is gifted to Christchurch’s recovery so everyone can enjoy what attracted me there in the first place. It is time to reclaim the wonderful environment that the River Avon, the wetlands and the Horseshoe Lake offer Christchurch from city to sea.”
Evan Smith encouraged petition supporters to wave the petition on its way as it travelled past where they lived, worked and played on the Avon River.