The huge success of Saturday’s Adopt the Avon part of the Mother of All Clean Ups is an indication of the tremendous community interest in the future health of the Avon River red zone according to Evan Smith of Avon-Otakaro Network which coordinated the Avon River event.
Over twenty five community organisations combined forces on Saturday to clear tonnes of rubbish from the lower Avon.
“It was a glorious day and an amazing effort by so many people from such a diverse range of groups,” said Smith.
Nature play campaigners, advocates of native habitat regeneration, flat water sports clubs, schools, local iwi and the Eden NZ crew teamed up with corporate sponsors, the local community board and members of the general public in a highly successful concerted effort.
“It was tremendous seeing so many people reconnecting with the river again. For too long the red zone and riverside has been out-of-bounds and a target for fly-tipping.”
Almost 500 volunteers collected hundreds of bags of rubbish ranging from bottles, plastic, used hypodermics, old TVs, furniture, car parts, prams, trolleys and discarded timber.
“These items present a physical hazard to those using the riverbanks and river for recreation and sport and really degrade the amenity value of the red zone waterways,” says Smith.
Several organisations involved have developed specific proposals for the future use of the residential red zone.
These proposals range from the Eden NZ Project, to Nature Play, Greening the Red Zone, Avon-Otakaro Forest Park, a network of cycle and walkways and a flatwater reserve for recreation, sport and leisure – for people of all ages.
Sport Canterbury Chief Executive Julyan Falloon is on the board of East Lake Trust that is proposing a flatwater facility in the red zone for dragonboating, waka ama, triathlon, multisport, canoeing, sailing and rowing.
“The most important step toward the future of this land is hearing what the community has to say.”
Falloon adds that while sport may benefit, the spinoffs relating to mental health, physical activity and community recreation are the Trustees’ greatest motivation for the work they have undertaken around the proposal.
“With the recent establishment of Regenerate Christchurch there is a rekindling of enthusiasm and hope that community aspirations for the future use of the red zone can now be progressed.
“These proposals are complementary. They all fall within the Avon-Otakaro Network's vision to turn the Otakaro red zone into an eco-reserve, clean healthy river system and city-to-sea river park”, says Smith.
Adopt the Avon was part of the citywide Mother of All Clean Ups which also included the estuary coordinated by the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust and the Heathcote organised by the Opawaho-Heathcote River Network.
“Saturday was a fantastic effort and the city can only say a humble thanks to all those who helped” said Mother of All Clean Ups spokesperson, Bill Simpson.