Reshaping a city with passion

As one of the country’s largest council-owned maintenance and construction companies, Citycare Group was one of the major contractors to contribute to the Christchurch rebuild.

AFTER SEVEN YEARS Citycare has matured into a maintenance and construction company turning over $300 million a year and with a well-balanced portfolio of North and South Island contract work.

Its division Citycare Civil, in a joint venture with John Filmore Contracting (JFC), has been integral in the rebuilding the heart of Christchurch.

The restoration and development of the central city area surrounding Christchurch’s Avon River has been a particularly high-profile feature of its work.

This project involved constructing a two-kilometre-long City Promenade walk that weaves its way through the central business district, replacing Oxford Terrace on the Avon’s eastern side with a new city ‘waterfront’.

On the Avon’s western side Citycare Civil, together with partner JFC, constructed a green space with walking and cycling paths. Care was required to avoid damaging tree roots when working near significant trees, so Citycare employed innovative excavation processes such as air vacuums that eliminated the need for hydro-vac technology.

“Excavation with air vacuums worked well and was definitely safer, cleaner and faster than conventional methods,” says Roger Foy, general manager Major Projects for Citycare Civil.

At times teams were required to be highly sensitive to the emotions of those observing our work, notably the CTV site.

Meanwhile Citycare, along with its project partners, worked on the restoration of the nearby Victoria Square which had sustained extensive damage to its surfaces and structures during the earthquakes. Together they restored the square and made it more accessible with new links to nearby features like the riverside promenade.

This project required extensive repairs to adjacent footpaths, underground pipes and substantial landscape construction. Around 17,500 new plants were planted in and around the square and just over 170,000 new pavers laid, while three kilometres of pipes and cabling have been placed below ground. A new drainage and irrigation system will aid in extending the life of the square.

Another large, iconic construction project forming part of the new Avon River Precinct was Christchurch’s new central city play area – the Margaret Mahy Playground, which was awarded the Best Public Works Project over $5 million at the 2017 IPWEA NZ Excellence Awards.

Opened in December 2015, with separate activity zones for different ages, it’s one of the largest playgrounds in the Southern Hemisphere.

“All the slopes and surfacing have been designed to meet accessibility standards – a 1:12 maximum gradient for children, or adults in wheelchairs, says Foy.

Another project was the restoration and repair of central Christchurch’s historic Bridge of Remembrance and strengthening work on the Triumphal Arch, completed at the end of September 2015. The company later installed new paving on the bridge, along with a ramp to improve accessibility and lighting to highlight the arch.

The Joint Venture also worked on the newly landscaped site of the former Canterbury Television (CTV) building that opened to the public back in February.

The collapse of the CTV building in the February 2011 earthquake on the corner of Cashel and Madras Streets resulted in the loss of 115 lives and the injury of many more people. Three of the car parks and much of the building’s foundation were retained, while the western side of the foundation has been covered with stone chip. Planter boxes have been placed on the eastern side where the concrete is exposed.

“Citycare Civil did this work at cost as a gesture of goodwill to the city,” says Roger Foy.

“At times our teams were required to be highly sensitive to the emotions of those observing our work, notably the CTV site where the work we did was undertaken at cost.

“This sort of work was always a huge boost for our staff, to feel the extent to which their hard work was not just embraced but truly loved by Christchurch residents.”

This article was first published in the August 2018 issue of Contractor Magazine.

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