Call to clean up CTV building site

A man who lost his wife when the Canterbury Television building collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake is adding his voice to calls for the unkempt site to be tidied.

Canterbury University associate professor Dr Maan Alkaisi, whose wife, Dr Maysoon Abbas, a family doctor, was among 115 people killed in the tragedy, wants the city council to establish a temporary memorial on the site.

Medical practice The Clinic, where Dr Abbas worked, lost 13 staff in the disaster after moving into the CTV building just two weeks before the earthquake.

Tomorrow, Dr Alkaisi will ask the city council to tidy up the Madras St site ahead of the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake.

He is also seeking details of any plans the city council has for a permanent memorial.

Dr Alkaisi will make a deputation to the city council's earthquake recovery committee with public relations consultant David Lynch.

"We'd like the site tidied up," Dr Alkaisi told The Star. "We'd like to see it taken care of, especially with the third anniversary coming."

Dr Alkaisi's plea to the city council comes just a month after the CTV site was slammed as an "embarrassment" by a couple who hosted a student who perished in the building.

Mr Lynch said something needed to be done about the "barren wasteland" that the site had become.

"We simply can't allow that site to remain the way it is. It looks abandoned," he said.

"We're there to ask the council to do something so that come February 22 when families come for the anniversary they will have something dignified where they can remember."

Linda Burrowes and Steven Tubb urged authorities to clean up the site before families visit for the third anniversary.

"Please just do something with it. It is such an embarrassment - literally a slab of concrete and some wilting flowers," Ms Burrowes said.

Ms Burrowes was hosting Japanese student Emi Murakami, who died with 114 others in the building collapse.

She suggested "some beautiful green lawn with a seat".

"In Japan they are so very respectful of the dead. They would treat this as a sacred spot and it looks like a heap of rubble in the middle of the city - it is an embarrassment."

Dr Alkaisi said people need to know what happened at the site.

"They cannot just build another building there and forget what happened."

Dr Alkaisi said he was unaware of any city council plans for the surrounding area and he wanted to know what councillors had in mind.

"We will be asking the council what their plans are," he said.

Dr Alkaisi said he had talked to family members of other CTV victims to gauge their views, but he conceded that with the many different nationalities and cultures involved "you will never have everyone agree with exactly the same idea.

"Because there's not much time (before the third anniversary) we want to make it in a state that is respectful and we will also talk about a long-term plan.

"We want to send a message to the building industry to have human safety in mind when building a new Christchurch. We don't want to see this happen again."

A Royal Commission of Inquiry into the CTV building collapse found the building's design was deficient and should not have been approved.

In July the Crown bought the site for its Eastern Frame central park residential greenspace area in the city rebuild, but the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has assured victims' families it will remain a public space where people can reflect and remember.

While the Crown has purchased the property, the city council is responsible for maintaining the site.

- By Cullen Smith of The Star

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