In August 2016, the Avon-Ōtākaro Network (AvON) sought replies from local body candidates to 4 questions about the future of the red zone lands that run from the Avon Loop in the CBD to Southshore along the length of the lower Ōtākaro/Avon River. See AvON’s website for a full report. Simon’s responses were:
Question 1: Do you support a multipurpose city-to-sea River Park that meets diverse community needs eg for environmental regeneration and restoration; recognition of cultural & community heritage; play, recreation and sport; food production; arts and entertainment; learning, training, employment, small business and tourism?
A: I am personally supportive. The role of a Community Board is to represent, and advocate for, the interests of its community, and to that end I will ensure the views of the Papanui-Innes community are reflected, should the Community Board have a role in relation to future use of the red zone.
Question 2: While allowing for multiple uses as above, do you support the maximum possible restoration of native ecosystems within the Ōtākaro Red Zone, to enhance water quality, biodiversity and mahinga kai values (i.e: all other uses fit within a native forest and wetland park)?
A: This makes sense to me personally. I will ensure the views of the Papanui-Innes community are reflected, should the Community Board have a role in relation to future use of the red zone.
Question 3: Do you support that the basis for deciding future use should be purely financial return to the Crown, or do you support that significant consideration should also be given to the economic value of cultural, social and environmental returns and benefits for the communities, city and country?
A: Any future use of the red zone will have non-financial impacts, and I expect decision-making to take that into consideration.
Question 4: Do you support the redevelopment of red zone land for residential use? If yes, to what extent, where in the red zone, how and why?
A: Improving the availability of affordable housing has previously been identified as a priority by the Shirley-Papanui Community Board. As such it seems reasonable to consider residential use of red zone land as an option, especially if it could have a material impact on the availability/affordability of housing in the city. Assuming it was technically and financially viable, returning some red zone land to residential use could be a win-win, by increasing housing supply while improving the business case for the River Park.