Call For Community Facility Grows

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Opinion: Call For Community Facility Grows
By Joanna Gould | May 10, 2018

I attended an antenatal class at the Shirley Community Centre 11 years ago and have been a local Shirley resident for the past 10 years.

I have a passion for research, learning and community spaces. The former Shirley Community Centre at 10 Shirley Rd was an iconic focal point of our community since 1915. It was originally Shirley Primary School, and later on our Shirley Community Centre, a place for cultural, educational and recreational activities.

It was seriously damaged in the February 22, 2011, earthquake, and was demolished in 2012.

Since the earthquakes, our community has been struggling to get our homes repaired and rebuilt. Two primary schools have closed, our roads are still damaged, there are detours and closures in place, and sucker trucks run throughout the night due to sewer system failures when it rains.

The Dudley Creek flood remediation is overdue by a year, and the ‘temporary depot/storage yard’ sites at 10 Shirley Rd and 40 Guild St are having a negative impact on residents lives.

Recently we learnt that the new QE II campus, built to relocate Avonside Girls’ and Shirley Boys’ High Schools, may change ‘our school’ zones, which will deny our children access to ‘our schools’.

And now, after years of waiting for the rebuild to start for our community centre, we have been dealt another blow. We find out that the funding granted by the city council has not been included in the draft Long Term Plan.

The 10 Shirley Rd site is a constant visual reminder to me, and the locals/road users of Shirley Rd, that our community has been left behind; we haven’t rebuilt from the earthquakes.

What message are we sending to the children at Shirley Primary School and the children from other schools that travel past this area?

That it’s okay to treat your community spaces like this?

Do our children matter to the city council? Are they not future Christchurch ratepayers?

Our community’s health is at stake. We can not wait 10 years. We need our community centre rebuilt now.

My suggestion is to combine city council resources with funding and donations to create a new Shirley Library, service centre, learning space and playground, with the existing Shirley Playcentre. That would lift up our community and give us a meeting place for all cultural, educational and recreational activities.

I created the website to collate my research and ideas for my submission to the city council’s Long Term Plan.

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Christchurch Libraries

Libraries 2025 Facilities Plan | May 2015 |Christchurch City Council
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The library as a place – a community hub, a business hub, a space for innovation and creativity – is becoming more important even as libraries become more digital and virtual. The library is changing from being a place where people came to get ideas and information, to an experiential place where people meet with others to create, share and learn about new ideas in a social context.

Facilities Plan
Libraries are important community hubs and help strengthen communities.
– The Plan will recognise the need to provide relevant services and community space.
– Libraries will foster local communities’ wellbeing by providing accessible meeting places and focal points for the community, learning and leisure activities.
– Library facilities will be safe buildings that can be utilised as local hubs and in particular enable access to information and Council and related services during emergencies.
– Library facilities will embrace the cultural diversity of local communities.
– The Plan will reflect Council’s commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi by reflecting an understanding of and respect for the needs of the Tangata Whenua.
– Architecturally designed buildings will generate community pride and reflect the diversity of local cultures and lifestyles.

City’s Community Outcomes
– A City of Lifelong Learning.
– A City for Recreation, Fun and Creativity.
– A City of Inclusive and Diverse Communities.
These are key contributors to meeting the Council’s strategic direction for creating Strong Communities along with a Liveable City and Prosperous Economy.

Strengthen The Community
Public libraries strengthen the communities in which they are situated:
– helping to build community unity,
– identity and developing citizenship;
– providing people with the information they need to enrich and excite them;
– supporting, encouraging and facilitating lifelong learning and fostering literacy;
– encouraging a love of reading.
Public libraries assist in drawing people out of social exclusion and contribute to the economic development and cultural well being of their communities.

Urban Design Protocol
The value of public buildings such as libraries is emphasised in the Urban Design Protocol (which Christchurch City Council is a signatory to): they protect the cultural identity and heritage of our towns and cities; provide creativity; and add social, environmental and cultural benefits by creating well connected, inclusive and accessible places.

Key Stakeholder Engagement
Selective pre-consultation engagement by the Project Team with key stakeholder groups was undertaken during the information-gathering phase to support and inform the Working Party’s deliberations. Representative community groups, library professionals, education providers, volunteers and library website users were among those consulted. Earlier customer and stakeholder research was also referenced. In summary, the key and common points raised by many of these stakeholder groups were:

Library Facilities
– Important, central meeting place and focal point in a community.
– Open, spacious, welcoming environment; warm place to be in winter; vital social contact for many (especially older persons); place to meet (café) and relax with children and friends or family.
– Outstanding location (e.g. overlooking ocean, park setting), source of community pride, for the building and the resources available.
– Access to a diverse range of reading materials – books, magazines, children’s and talking books; Central Library used by people for the value and depth of collection and there are more items from which to choose.
– Free learning environment; provider of ‘second chance’ opportunities for adults wanting to learn.
– Provider of general services, e.g. photocopiers, community/local information.

Location Preferences
– Near local shops/supermarket/mall/bank/medical centre/schools/playground/toy library; malls and aquatic facilities not seen as highly desirable areas for co-location or as adjacent locations; co-location with a Council service centre favoured.
– On bus route/near transport hubs; handy walking distance from home; easily accessed, free, plentiful car parking adjacent to library.
– Attractive street visibility.

Library facilities need to be ‘where the people go’. Many users, particularly casual leisure users, are attracted to libraries in a similar way to retail and entertainment activities.
Therefore, library facilities are best located either close to a major destination within the city, such as a mall and/or a major transport junction, or at sites sufficiently attractive to draw visitors to them as standalone ‘destination locations’.

Building Requirements
– Spaciousness – cafes; room for quiet spaces away from bustle of café and children’s area; generous space between book stack aisles to enable easy browsing by less nimble and multiple users at one time; plenty of chairs/ beanbags and desks at which to work/relax.
– Whanau-friendly facilities, e.g. children’s areas, baby feeding/changing facilities.
– Outdoor environment important – need natural features and to be welcoming; clear signposting within and outside the building.
– Accessible buildings and facilities for people with disabilities.
– Good infrastructure and building design (air conditioning, etc).
– Library buildings will foster a sense of civic pride.

Future Service Needs
– Will always be a need for books.
– Continue free access to libraries. In the future, key uses will be for carrying out research using non-digitised resources and accessing leisure reading.
– Retain libraries as the key repositories for books/knowledge in the city; storage of local history and identity; act as a one-stop source for tourist and community information, e.g. InfoTap and Heartlands.
– Ensure adequate staffing by helpful, positive and knowledgeable librarians.
– Provide continuing education courses in information access/library use.
– Ensure libraries are safe, restful places; provide opportunities to relax – coffee and areas for families.
– Maintain a high-quality library website and electronic catalogue.
– Provide more resources in Te reo and materials of interest to Maori.
– Incorporate barrier-free access to latest technology, e.g. free Broadband and wireless network; provide online assistance for remote users; and free internet access.
– Include technologies that enable access to information by people with disabilities – important that Central and at least some of community libraries have a good range of technologies available; ensure information and leisure reading/listening/viewing resources meet needs of people with disabilities.

Library Trends
Libraries will transition from a centre of information to a centre of culture.
Not surprisingly the growing use of technology is a major trend. The New Zealand government’s Digital Strategy envisages a digital future for all New Zealanders, using the power of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to enhance all aspects of our lives; provide seamless, easy access to information for work, leisure and cultural identity.
Its goals are to:
– Enable communities to use technology to realise their social, cultural and economic aspirations.
– Enhance the contribution ICT makes to New Zealand’s overall business productivity.
– Provide all New Zealanders with the digital skills and confidence to find and use the information they need.
– Public libraries, as primary providers of information in Christchurch, must embrace key goals of the Strategy in future planning.

Post Earthquakes
Those libraries that were able to remain open in the aftermath of the quakes rapidly became the only, vital link that people could have with friends and family elsewhere. Free access to the internet and social media enabled people to connect with family and friends to reassure them of their safety, sharing their experiences and expressing their needs.
Public and community information was readily available at libraries – they became an information and social conduit for recovery.
Libraries have always had this role in communities, but never more valued than during this time when other channels of communication were limited.

‘Share an Idea’ | Christchurch Central Recovery Plan
People’s thoughts on libraries in our city’s future included that they are community hubs and lifeblood, provide accessible public spaces where all are welcome, are centres for preserving and reflecting cultural heritage, have exciting learning spaces, children’s areas, café, exhibition and performance spaces, and provide free WiFi and interactive access.
The community has strongly indicated libraries are valued as key destinations and “anchors”.

Shirley Library 2008
Current Facility: Built 1996. Future need for more service capability. Space required to develop service for learning services to support need in the community.
Fit With Need: Growth retail – The Palms Shopping Centre. Need – Community.
Recommended Actions: Participate in ongoing Council/Ecan planning with mall owners with the view to possible relocation and upgrade of library facility as suburban library.
Priority Driver: Growth/need. Retail development impacted by growth. Opportunity for service improvement.

Land Use Recovery Plan | December 2013
Halswell, Belfast, New Brighton and Shirley suburbs are identified a key activity centres for business and community which aligns with the planning for new and retention of libraries in these areas.

Shirley Library 2014
Current Facility: Detailed Engineering. Evaluation completed. Some repairs will be required.
Fit With Need: Extensive housing developments to the north expected to balance the loss of households to the east due to earthquake damage.
Recommended Actions: Maintain library service and consider the future location of the library in the post earthquake environment in line with developments in Shirley and Marshlands.
Priority Driver: Growth/need. Supporting the projected increases in residential growth in the north east.

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Christchurch’s Forgotten Suburb?

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Is Shirley Christchurch’s forgotten suburb?
By Tina Law | May 04 2018

For years Shirley residents have watched as millions of dollars have been poured into other Christchurch suburbs to build community centres, new swimming pools and libraries.
Shirley’s much-loved and used community centre on Shirley Rd was demolished following the 2010-11 earthquakes and Christchurch City Council has no plans to rebuild it in the next 10 years.
Papanui Innes Community Board member Ali Jones described the area as the city’s forgotten suburb earlier this week as she lobbied the council for extra funding for the area and the wider Papanui Innes ward.
Shirley’s situation is unlikely to change any time soon as the suburb has once again been largely left out of the council’s 10-year budget, the 2018-2028 draft Long Term Plan.

Money has been spent in the area, but only on infrastructure work, like roading, flooding reduction programmes and cycleways. As Jones said: “No big pool complex or hot pools here.”
Sumner, Mt Pleasant, Heathcote, Aranui and St Martins are just a handful of the suburbs to get new council-funded community centres since the earthquakes. New Brighton has a new multi-million dollar seaside playground and hot pools are planned. Planning is underway for a new pool, service centre and library in Hornby and for a pool in Linwood.
Halswell is getting two new skate parks, while the basketball court at Shirley’s MacFarlane Park is cracked and its toilets are still damaged from a fire in November.
Shirley residents acknowledge their area was not as badly damaged as others in the earthquakes, and are not saying other areas do not deserve new facilities. They just want their community centre rebuilt and their footpaths and roads fixed.

Sitting inside the MacFarlane Park Neighbourhood Centre on Acheson Ave, Mary Duff, 71, is knitting, having a cuppa and a natter with friends.
She says she broke her arm last year after tripping on an uneven section of footpath in Acheson Ave near her home. She notified the council but the bump has yet to be repaired, 10 months later.
“We get lumps and bumps on the street and they do nothing about it. I think it’s because it’s Shirley.
“We are human beings. We live in this place too. We may not be rich people but we try and look after our houses.”
Duff has lived in Shirley for 40 years and she runs the Knit and Knatter Group based at the neighbourhood centre. The group knits garments and donates them to hospitals. It receives a $350 grant from the council.
Sitting across the table is Duff’s friend, Sharyn Burnett. She is a community worker for the Shirley Community Trust and says everyone should be on a level footing when it comes to council support.
“We don’t want big, fancy, high-costing things. We want to make sure the basics are covered.”
“We don’t have a lot of money and material things but the people are so generous in their hearts and their spirits.”

Burnett, who has lived in Shirley for 23 years, says the area is suffering from a lack of places to meet.
“We have lost lots. Lots of venues, churches, our community centre. Where else do groups go? The loss of buildings is a big thing.”
Some relief is on its way for the Shirley Community Trust, with the opening of a new used building behind the existing MacFarlane Park Neighbourhood Centre. The building was donated to the council by the Lions Club International after the earthquakes and was previously used as the St Albans Community Centre. The council is now leasing the building to the trust.
The existing centre is bursting at the seams after taking in groups who lost their facilities after the quakes. More than 20 projects operate there each week, including a volunteer-run cafe which offers hospitality training to help people to find work.
While the new building is welcome, residents say there is still a need for a bigger facility to replace the one the community lost at 10 Shirley Rd.
Shirley is about 3.5 kilometres from the central city and was developed in the early 20th century after being mostly used as farm land by early settlers. According to Christchurch City Library archives, Shirley was the maiden name of Susannah Buxton, the wife of property developer John Buxton. On her death bed she asked her son to give land to the Methodists to build a church. The Shirley Methodist Church was built and the suburb eventually became known as Shirley.
The suburb is well served when it comes to retail with The Palms shopping centre nearby and other small pockets of convenience and food stores dotted around, but it has been some years since the row of shops on Acheson Ave have been fully tenanted.

A sign on Hills Rd optimistically alerts motorists and pedestrians to a shopping centre on Acheson Ave, but on closer inspection, the 12 shop fronts remain mostly closed to the public with metal roller doors. The dairy is the only shop that appears open.
Duff can remember when the centre was a hive of activity with a doctor’s surgery, pharmacy, bank, post shop, Four Square supermarket and hairdressers. But once The Palms opened they eventually closed up shop, she says.
Rosene and Donald Cholmondely​, who are heading home after taking their dog for a walk, say they have heard a fish n’ chip shop is about to open after the previous one burnt down. They have heard the owner is waiting on consents from the council.
The Cholmondelys have lived in Shirley for 18 years, but Rosene is ready to move on. She is fed up. Her home has been burgled four times in 12 years. The last time was a week ago. She lost some jewellery.
“I’m a bit disillusioned by it.”
They had the Mongrel Mob living down the road at one point and Rosene says that was good because it kept the burglaries down.
Donald says he wants to see a new playground for the children and Rosene wants a community garden established.
“What can the council do? That is the thing.”

Jenna Huffam knows exactly what the council can do. It can fix the toilets at MacFarlane Park.
Huffam runs children’s touch rugby at the park during the summer. More than 600 kids were involved, yet the toilets were out of action, so the children were led across to the neighbourhood centre, which had the closest toilet.
“The park is really well used, but it has no toilets.”
Huffam also wants to see the basketball court repaired. It is also well used, but has a big crack right through the middle.
Shirley is a family-orientated suburb. Some 65 per cent of residents are families with children and about 21 per cent of its population is between 0 to 15. The city average is 17.8 per cent.
The number of children in the area is what 8-year-old Anastasia Monteath-Carr loves about Shirley.
“I have lots of friends here and they live near me.”

Her mum, Therese Monteath-Carr, says the community is a tight-knit one, but it is suffering without the community centre. She also wants to see improved playgrounds and the street flooding fixed.
“It doesn’t flood as badly as some other areas, but there are some pretty formidable puddles verging on lakes. I walk my daughter to school and kids end up at school soaking. It’s not good in the middle of winter.”
There are eight schools either in or very nearby. One of the three schools bearing the suburb’s name will move to Burwood and it is taking its zone with it. Shirley has been entirely left out of the school’s new zone. Roughly half the suburb is inside the existing zone.
There is anger in the community about this and some feel “abandoned” after supporting the broken schools through the post-quake years.

The community is fighting back over the school zone and the council’s unwillingness to replace its community centre.
Shirley resident Joanna Gould has come up with a plan to push for a new joint library, learning centre, service centre, playground and playcentre at the former community centre site. She has written a submission to the council’s LTP and created a website to detail the plans.
She says the existing library building at The Palms could be sold to the mall owners and the library should be incorporated in a new centre.
“Each day as I pass 10 Shirley Rd, it is a constant visual reminder to me and the locals/road users of Shirley Rd, that our community has been left behind, we haven’t rebuilt from the earthquakes.”

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