The New Zealand government has signalled its commitment to the building of a new convention centre in Christchurch by making it a top priority.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says a new convention centre will be an anchor project and hopes to have a decision by July on where it will be located.
“Delivering certainty about that project will begin the process of reviving the city’s hospitality and tourism sector,’’ says Brownlee, who announced last week a new business unit was being set up inside the Canterbury Earthquake Authority to drive the rebuild of Christchurch’s CBD.
The newly established Christchurch Central Development Unit has just three months to come up with a blueprint for turning the Christchurch City Council’s vision for the CBD, which includes a state-of-the-art, world-class convention centre, into a reality.
Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter says he is thrilled the government is moving swiftly to progress the rebuilding of the CBD.
“We’re particularly pleased that the government has recognised the importance of building a new convention centre and seems as committed as we are to getting it up and operating as quickly as possible.
“Business tourism contributes significantly to Christchurch’s economy and it is very important that urgency is given to building a new convention centre as it will help revive our hospitality and tourism sectors, which have taken a big hit since the quakes,” Hunter says.
“If we can get a decision within the next three months on where the convention centre will be sited then that will give hotels and others in the hospitality industry the confidence to start planning for the future. It will drive investment and help encourage others back into the CBD.
“We would like to think that by 2017 we will boast the best convention centre in the country,” Hunter says.
Other projects in the pipeline for Christchurch’s rebuilt CBD include:
• A new sports hub with an Olympic-size aquatic facility and indoor stadium.
• A new international quarter where visitors will be entertained by buskers and musicians and where they will be able to enjoy foods from around the world.
• Free wireless hot-spots around the city so as to make the city accessible in every way.
• The greening of the city through building design and through the doubling the amount of open space within the CBD.
• Widening the banks of the Avon River to create a new riverside park.
The overall vision is for a mostly low-rise, resilient, safe, vibrant and sustainable place where creativity and diversity are celebrated.
“Our city is set in the heart of one of the most beautiful locations on earth, the South Island, with the Alps and ocean on our doorstep. We want to be a world-leader in sustainability and to enhance our Garden City image to reflect a modern, healthy and resilient urban area.
“Over the next 10 years we have a unique chance to reinvent Christchurch city, to position ourselves as a world-leader in sustainability, and to show the world what a 21st century city should look like. And that’s exactly what we intend to do,’’ Hunter says.