From graduates to technical principals, office support staff and family members, the WSP crew used their annual community volunteer day to work across two sites – Richmond’s Adventure Ave playground and Wainoni’s Porritt Park.
Before the earthquake, Porritt Park was a sports facility. It’s now one of the first areas in the Red Zone to be naturalised and returned to wetland. This winter, the Council and community aim to plant 25,000 native trees in the area – part of a wider project to create a green pathway linking the city to the coast along the Ōtākaro Avon River corridor.
WSP’s volunteers helped put a sizeable dent in that number – managing to get 2,200 natives in the ground! Despite the sunny weather, it turned out to be a muddy and boggy affair due to recent flooding.
As well as tree planting and mulching, WSP volunteers built a new wheelchair-accessible path to the Adventure Ave playground and spruced up its bike track. The playground sits on the border of the Red Zone. It was designed and (mostly) built by students from nearby Banks Avenue School. This project held special significance for WSP staff involved in the design of the new Pareawa Banks Avenue School, due to open for students next week for the start of Term 3.
WSP Electrical Engineer Josh Blackmore helped coordinate WSP’s volunteer efforts. He says the 2011 earthquake and earthquake recovery is a big part of Christchurch’s story.
“Even over ten years later, getting out into the Red Zone and engaging with some of the people and places most impacted by the quakes brings home how significant an event they were.
“The Adventure Ave playground was an incredibly meaningful project for the students, who have grown up in some of the most earthquake-affected suburbs. It has helped them reclaim a portion of the earthquake experience, and land, for their own fun.
“Devoting our community day to this and the Porritt Park tree planting was a lovely way of linking our staff with those ultimately most impacted by the work we do - students, teachers and the wider community.
“As planners and designers of the built environment, involving ourselves in these kinds of volunteer days is a great way of giving back to the community. It also gives us more information and context when we’re designing and managing spaces for the people of our city.
“It’s initiatives like these that keep us close to the people who experience the work we do.”
This WSP Community Day was organised by Pathways, WSP’s emerging professional group, in partnership with the Christchurch City Council and the Avon Ōtākaro Network.