Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Christchurch.

Govt announces Christchurch rebuild funding

The planned $284m convention centre, as seen in the Christchurch Central City Recovery Plan Blueprint.
The planned $284m convention centre, as seen in the Christchurch Central City Recovery Plan Blueprint.

The Government will pay $2.9 billion towards Christchurch city centre's $4.8 billion post-earthquake big ticket blueprint projects, it's been announced today.

The Government will bankroll all of the $284m new convention centre, but the Christchurch City Council will pay the bulk of a new stadium - $253m of the $290m price-tag.

The deal comes after months of negotiations between the two parties.

The council met behind closed doors last week to vote on whether they sign off the deal.

The biggest expense, horizontal infrastructure below the city, will be split $1.14bn for the council, and $1.8bn for the Government.

A $481m frame around the new city centre will be paid for by the Government.

The city bus interchange costs will be split - with the council paying $40m and the Government $51m.

A new metro sports facility will cost Christchurch ratepayers $147m, and the Crown share coming to $70m.

An Avon River precinct will cost the local authority just $6m, while the Government will cough up $89m.

Both Mayor Bob Parker and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said today's announcement allows both the Crown and the council to "make more definitive moves in advancing the CBD's anchor projects''.

"There is now clarity about who is responsible for leading and funding each of the major projects,'' Mr Parker said.

"It gives us the green light to go ahead with the rebuild.''

Mr Brownlee said the agreement allows them both to plan the management and development of anchor projects with more certainty.

A new city square will be split $5m each, while the council will pay $60m towards a $79m central library.

The performing arts plan, including a rebuilt Town Hall, will cost the council $158m, and the Government just $8m.

Car parking worth $70m will be paid for locally.

Mr Parker said having confirmation around the cost-sharing ratios for the repair of the underground pipes and roads was "of huge importance to us''.

He paid tribute to his "earthquake buddy'' Mr Brownlee for getting the support of Cabinet to approve the agreement.

By Christmas this year, there will have been "significant progress'' on many of the plans for the major city facilities, Mr Parker said.

The Government had been "incredibly bold and brave'' to take on the Convention Centre, which is so important for the city, he said.

"Congratulations to them, it is a massive commitment to Christchurch.

"The city, I think, comes out of this very, very well.''

Prime Minister John Key said today's announcement was "a great day'' for the city.

The certainty of the agreement meant the CBD rebuild can plough ahead, he said.

Negotiations were not rushed and were carried out by senior officials, not by politicians, Mr Key said.

He said that since the deal was legally binding on both the Crown and council, it created a high level of certainty for taxpayers and ratepayers.

Timelines will be released over the next few months.

The Government increased its contribution to the rebuild by $2bn to $15bn in April after revising the estimated cost upwards from $30 billion to $40 billion.

Mr Key and Mr Brownlee have said in the past that the council should sell off some of its assets to free up some cash to pay for its "nice to haves'' in the rebuild.

The idea of the council partly selling its stake in assets, such as power company Orion, Lyttelton Port Company Ltd and Christchurch International Airport Ltd, is "incredibly logical'', according to Mr Key.

But Mayor Bob Parker has repeatedly rejected those suggestions, as well as calls to increase rates, and instead prefers to borrow the money required for its share of the rebuild.

- APNZ

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