In February 2011, Christchurch, NZ’s second largest city, suffered a devastating earthquake that left 185 people dead and destroyed more than 600 commercial buildings and 8,000 homes.

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has released a plan which will form the basis of Christchurch central city’s transport infrastructure for the next 30 years.  The plan provides for a 30km speed limit in the inner part of the city centre, the retention of the bulk of its one-way system, more cycle lanes, improved landscaping, and the location of several large-scale bus stations on key routes through the city centre.  A portion of Manchester Street, on the eastern edge of the city centre, will be converted into a boulevard which separates public transport from normal traffic and is a central feature of the plan which is a product of 300 public submissions earlier this year.  The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and Christchurch council will develop further design guidelines and a parking plan in the next few months.

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today [June 10] that the government is committed to locating several large government departmental offices in Christchurch’s rebuilt CBD. The news was hailed by business leaders who said that without such a commitment it would have been harder to draw the population back into the CBD. Mr Brownlee said that although the government has already acquired some land there, it is likely to rely largely on rented premises. Meanwhile the temporary sports stadium built for $32m at Addington to replace the quake-devastated former AMI stadium has won a major award as “project of the year” at an international stadium business conference in Manchester. It was designed in under six months and built in less than 100 days.

Read the CERA June 2013 Update

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The US | NZ Council has a special connection to this tragedy and the people of Christchurch.  At the time of the earthquake, the Council was co-hosting the 2011 Partnership Forum in the city.  More than 110 Americans and New Zealanders were participating in the event, including Members of the U.S. Congress and NZ Parliament.

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In response to the disaster, members of the US | NZ Council established a charitable campaign called American Friends of Christchurch or AFOC.  Since February 2011, AFOC has collected US$5 million in donations.  Today, the charitable effort continues as the Council focuses public attention on rebuilding Christchurch to be a model for cities of the future.

Every city in the world can learn important lessons from the effort to transform Christchurch into a model urban area.  The 2013 Pacific Partnership Forum will feature a session on this topic.  Lean more about Christchurch and AFOC at the following links:

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