People from Gap Filler, Greening the Rubble, Christchurch Transitional Architectural Trust (producers of FESTA) and Life in Vacant Spaces worked to create some questions that were sent to candidates for the upcoming national election.

Questions were sent to Green, Labour and National Candidates for the Central City. They were also sent to the current Earthquake Minister, the Hon. Gerry Brownlee who is currently the MP for ILAM and his Labour party competitor for the seat, James Dann.

All answers received are below. If there are no answers for a candidate, that is because they did not reply. Gerry Brownlee’s office acknowledged receipt of our email, but did not reply to the questions.

Q1) What do you see as the most important contribution/values that temporary use projects provide to Christchurch’s recovery and how will you support and recognise these values in future?

Tony Milne, CHCH CENTRAL, Labour: Temporary use projects have and will continue to play a significant role in helping to re-imagine and re-create a city that responds to 21st century challenges.  We have a unique opportunity to rebuild a better city – temporary use projects and the values that drive them are critical to helping us lead the world in responding to today’s challenges around climate change, peak oil and urban renewal.

It is the human scale, small, public projects that are providing people with hope right now, but also hope of a better tomorrow in Christchurch.  For me the most important contributions of temporary use projects are:

1)       Providing hope that tomorrow will be better and that we can grasp the opportunity to do things differently.  Temporary projects have reintroduced life into a bleak post-earthquake central city through creativity and public engagement.  They have been important for building resilience and improving people’s mental health, well-being and spirit or Ora.  They have provided insight into the kind of city that we can become.

2)       The importance of public space (rather than private).  Public space has been in decline.  More and more of the life of the modern city has become private and commercialised.  Temporary use projects have provided a new public (non-commercial) space for people to come together and laugh, think, debate, and engage.  People want to participate in rethinking our city – and the temporary use projects have helped that conversation through community connectedness.

3)       Challenging the status quo (in every possible way).  The earthquakes have provided Christchurch the opportunity to lead New Zealand (and the world) on designing a city that recognises the threat of climate change and the reality of peak oil.  Temporary use projects provide the opportunity to rethink urban life and a future low-carbon city that is thriving and resilient.

These are some of the reasons I got into politics in the first place.  I look forward to helping create a different kind of city and different kind of future.  I will provide any support that I can because change to the status quo requires challenging peoples thinking, creativity and building mass movements.

James Dann, ILAM, Labour: The temporary projects that have emerged in the city post quake are important for a number of reasons, but if I was going to give one reason, I would say it is the hope which they provide. Hope that we can build a better city, hope that we can work together as a community, hope that we can challenge the way in which we interact with our environment, whether that be the natural environment or the built environment. I fully support the transitional movement, and would like to be able to support the people that make it possible. This may mean funding for the people who do the projects, but also may mean changing the rules and regulations so that developers and property owners feel more favourably towards these ideas.

2. What will you do to ensure that the temporary use of vacant land in Christchurch continues beyond the cessation of the CER Act in April 2016?

Tony Milne, CHCH CENTRAL, Labour: Temporary use of vacant land is critical for all of the reasons listed above (and more).  I am very keen to meet with and work with Greening the Rubble, Gap Filler, FesTA, LiVS (and any new groups that emerge) on an ongoing basis to discuss the best ways to support the temporary use of vacant land.  That could include facilitating conversations with Council and private owners, being flexible with land Government has acquired, and other support

James Dann, ILAM, Labour: Part of my answer to the last question relates to this one. However, I would like to expand further upon this. I would like to think that a more enlightened CERA would be far more supportive of transitional projects being undertaken on land which they own or have the rights to use. The top-down approach of CERA needs to be changed, so that it is more people-centric than it is at the moment. Once the Act expires in 2016, it may be appropriate for the government or the council to establish a formal relationship with groups like LIVS to help facilitate the ongoing use of the large tracts of vacant land which will inevitably still cover much of the former CBD.