Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Future of ECan

7 January 2014

On New Year’s Day there was an article in The Press on the future of Environment Canterbury, currently governed by Government-appointed commissioners.  I was quoted with a couple of lines from an interview that went for about ten minutes.

I strongly support a return to a fully-elected Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) but it seems to me that a mixture of elected (the majority) and appointed ECan members could be a way to go for the 2016 elections before getting back to a fully elected body in 2019.  I haven’t been a member of Amnesty International for 35 years to not believe in democratic rights.

People need to realise that of the current Canterbury mayors, only one (Kelvin Coe of Selwyn) was a mayor at the time the commissioners were put into Ecan in 2010.  There is now a very different group of people in place.

One problem that ECan has always had to deal with is that the major part of their work (water and land)  actually happens in rural areas and affects farmers in particular.  Individually, farmers pay substantial rates to ECan, although the total rates paid into Ecan mainly come from the urban area of Christchurch – it’s just that Christchurch has so many ratepayers, each paying a relatively small amount.  That also means that the voting power lies with Christchurch. In my observation, most of the opposition to the insertion of commissioners came from urban voters, because of the loss of democracy, and most of the support came from rural voters, because they felt that they had been having little say in how their rates were being spent.

I think the model of the Water Zone Committees, which are community committees jointly appointed by ECan and the relevant District councils (we have just one in Waimakariri, covering the whole District) has possibilities for the future.  These bring together farming, environmental and recreational interests and so far they are working well. If that model works, the greater voting power of urban Christchurch shouldn’t be an issue.

Minister Adams came to the last Canterbury Mayoral Forum and didn’t indicate any Government preferences.  It is entirely possible that the Government does not yet have a view, because she came to ask questions, not to tell us anything.  What is different from 2010, is that I will be doing my level best to make this discussion a public one that all Canterbury people have access to.

Despite what was said in the same article, I don’t detect a desire on the part of the mayors to do away with ECan.  Christchurch has long argued that they want to be a unitary authority, but I haven’t heard Lianne express a view herself.  Some of the other councils are arguably big enough to be unitary authorities (Waimakariri, Selwyn, Timaru, Ashburton) but others (Kaikoura, Hurunui, Mackenzie, Waimate, Waitaki) are probably not.  Talking about unitary authorities thus leads to a discussion about amalgamations, which I don’t think many in Canterbury want.  I certainly don’t.  There is the other problem that water is Canterbury’s big issue but the main rivers (Waimakariri, Rakaia, Rangitata, Waitaki) are all, for good community-of-interest reasons, District boundaries. Unitary authorities based on current boundaries would have trouble dealing with the rivers consistently.

One significant ECan function that could be dealt with at a District/City level is public transport.  Timaru is stand-alone anyway, and our main concern with the Christchurch system would be to make sure that Waimakariri and Selwyn have a proper say.

The issues are therefore Canterbury issues, not just Christchurch or even “Greater” Christchurch.

I’m Seeking Re-election to the Waimakariri Mayoralty

1 April 2013

In a speech to the Waimakariri Combined Probus Club, I have announced my intention to seek re-election to the Waimakariri Mayoralty.

You should be able to find the media statement that I have subsequently issued amongst the pages to the right with the title Re-Election Sought – Media Statement 1 April 2013 – or by clicking on the link here.

The speech is also there: Re-Election Sought – Speech to Waimakariri Combined Probus Club 28 March 2013 – or by clicking the link too!

How About a Super Waimakariri? – Watch out Christchurch!

10 September 2012

Back in the 1960s, Ghanaian one-party ruler Kwame Nkrumah went to China on a state visit and while he was away the army overthrew him.  He couldn’t even get back to his own country.

I go to Aussie on grandad duty for 5 days, and the Minister of Local Government announces a review of Canterbury local government in 2014. People start talking amalgamations.  I should have paid closer attention to history.

So should we look forward to a super-city? Some points to consider …

  1. Auckland city and district councils had a history of poor co-operation.  Canterbury city and district councils have cooperated well since the 1989 reorganisation.  Examples include the Greater Christchurch Development Strategy and the shared landfill at Kate Valley.
  2. Before the recent organisation, urban Auckland was run by 6 or 7 cities and districts. Urban Wellington has four. Urban Christchurch already has only one.
  3. Canterbury is not a city.  It’s a region or province stretching from beyond Kaikoura to beyond the Waitaki River.  It takes five or six hours to drive from one end to the other.
  4. A question for those who think Waimakariri and Selwyn, or parts of them, should be absorbed into Christchurch. What are their proposals for the rest of Canterbury?
  5. Waimakariri and Christchurch share one, repeat one, piece of infrastructure: the old Waimakariri Bridge on the Main North Road. No pipes, no other roads, connect the two areas.

Of course, the other option is for Waimakariri to absorb Christchurch.  Perhaps we could put that to a vote in the city.


Another Thought About ECan

9 September 2012

I’ve just tweeted a summarised version of this:

Question: Is the real reason for the delaying of the ECan elections that the Government has an agenda for all Canterbury local goverment but can’t implement it in 2013 because of the earthquakes?

ECan Commissioners to Remain in the Meantime: Some Thoughts

7 September 2012

The Government has announced today that Environment Canterbury, the Regional Council, will continue to be governed by commissioners until 2016, with a review on its future to be conducted in 2014.

One of the reasons for the delay in reaching final decisions has been given as the effect of the Canterbury earthquakes.

I have to agree with that.  Councils in the Greater Christchurch area (Christchurch, Waimakariri, Selwyn and ECan) do not need the distraction of a governance debate while our focus has to be on earthquake recovery.  My direct experience of the 1989 reorganisation was that a lot of time and energy was sucked up in the process. While the future governance of ECan would not necessarily affect the three territorial authorities, public speculation and debate on amalgamations, etc. had already started and would have intensified.  No thanks – we in Waimakariri have much more important work to do in the meantime.

The matter of having unelected commisisoners governing ECan will certainly raise some hackles – I have already received a tweet about it!  In the longer term, it is my view that a Council dealing with regional environmental and development issues and with regional resources, and responsible for regional regulation, should be answerable to the regional electorate. In the interim, however, I have been impressed with the performance of the Commissioners. Dame Margaret Bazley and her team have worked closely with the 10 territorial councils in the Region and have engaged very well with the community.  In other words, they have behaved as good elected  councillors should.

An important focus has been the implementation of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. In our case the Waimakariri Zone Committee has worked very well, consulted our community on a number of occasions and has set a clear way forward through its Zone Implementation Programme. Commissioner Rex Williams has played a full part in this Committee.

Looking to the future, a key issue for the Region is the fact that the majority of its population lives in Christchurch which therefore holds the electoral power but the most significant work lies, and has greater impact, in the rural areas. The greater part of ECan’s income probably comes from the city, but individually rural ratepayers would, on average, pay higher ECan rates than their city counterparts.

The distribution of representation is therefore an issue. In the end we have to remember that we are all Cantabrians and our urban areas (which are not just in Christchurch, of course) and our rural areas are interdependent.

The Results (2) …

10 October 2010

Waimakariri District Council

2010 Triennial Elections


The preliminary result for the Waimakariri District Council elections held on Saturday 9th October is as follows.

Mayor Votes Received

AYERS, David 7,666

KEATING, Ron 4,409

COLE, Elaine 1,129

WAKEMAN, Peter Keith 403

LEARY, Andrew 286



Oxford-Eyre Ward (2 vacancies) Votes Received

FELSTEAD, Kevin 1,574

GORDON, Dan 1,502

DOODY, Wendy 1,308

SMALLEY, Angela Independent 809



Woodend-Ashley Ward (2 vacancies) Votes Received

FARRANT, Peter 1,703

BARNETT, Kirstyn 1,549

COLE, Elaine 1,120



Rangiora Ward (3 vacancies) Votes Received

AYERS, David 3,570

GERARD, Jim 2,613

BRINE, Robbie Independent 2,415

ALLEN, Peter 2,043


STIRLING, Sharleen 1,097



Kaiapoi Ward (3 vacancies) Votes Received

BLAIR, Roger Independent 2,748

ATKINSON, Neville Independent 2,271

MEYER, John 1,814

STEWART, Sandra 1,755

BRENNAN, Ben Independent 833




Kaiapoi Community Board (6 vacancies) Votes Received

MEYER, John 2,569

RYDER, Steve 2,567

STEWART, Sandra 2,390

FAASS, Caroline 1,993

WALLACE, Robyn H 1,985

WATSON, Jackie 1,783

BRENNAN, Ben Independent 1,612

HENDERSON, Lee 1,340



Woodend-Ashley Community Board (6 vacancies) Votes Received

BARNETT, Kirstyn 1,889

LUNDY, Duncan 1,535

NORTHMORE, Mike 1,465

ENSOR, James 1,458

NELSON, Keith Independent 1,255

CABLE, Rick 1,173

PRICKETT, Chris 400



Rangiora Community Board (6 vacancies) Votes Received

GERARD, Jim 3,049

ALLEN, Peter 3,013

BRINE, Robbie Independent 3,008

CLARKE, Murray 2,341

HOULT, Judith 2,102

STIRLING, Sharleen 1,890

GALLOWAY, Keith Independent 1,676

MILLER, Greg 1,560

SMALLEY, Angela Independent 1,260

RATHGEN, Warwick Independent 1,253

CALDWELL, Alf 1,121



The voter return was 41.95%, being 14,133 voting papers, excluding special votes.

Warwick Lampp

Electoral Officer

Waimakariri District Council

9 October 2010

Pegasus: My Position

3 October 2010

I was opposed to the Pegasus proposal when it was first mooted, an opposition that was well publicised at the time.  I submitted against it at the hearing.

Pegasus is now a fact, however.  People are moving in and they are now Waimakariri residents.  The owners of properties there are Waimakariri ratepayers.

It is in the interests of the District for the Pegasus development to succeed.  Failure would bring about a significant social cost to the wider community.

The development of the relationship between Pegasus, Woodend and Waikuku is going to be something that the three communities and the wider District are going to be working on for a number of years.

Rural Subdivision: My Position

3 October 2010

The spread of 10-acre (4ha) blocks across the Waimakariri landscape concerns a lot of people, including me.

One needs to remember, however, that the rural economy outside of dairying remains very difficult.  For many farmers, subdivision has become about the only way they can make something out of their land.  We also need to acknowledge that there has been, at least until recently, market demand for these “lifestyle” blocks.

A further defence is that some of these small blocks are actually very productive.

However, their spread has driven up the cost of neighbouring farmland and has swallowed up much of the District’s productive capacity.

Before 4ha became the minimum standard for rural lots in the District Plan, the Resource Management Act made it very difficult to resist subdivision anyway.  The subdivisions usually ended up being granted but with the applicants being put to the extra cost of seeking resource consents.  Before the RMA, subdivision also still happened, but with lawyers and consultants making money out of proving”economic use” of the proposed lots.

I belive that we can help limit the spread of 4ha blocks by making more provision for rural-residential developments where the average size of lots is 0.5 or 1 hectare.  Examples already exist in places like Fernside. Hopefully, this will soak up some of the demand.

Going back to past subdivision standards will be very difficult because once such a move is signalled, a huge amount of hurried subdivision is likely to result.

Local Government Reform in Canterbury: My Position

3 October 2010

Having already been on the Local Government scene for six years when the 1989 restructuring took place, I know how difficult the process can be.  The successive amalgamations of Rangiora Borough and Rangiora District, then the new District with Eyre County, and then that new Rangiora District with Kaiapoi Borough, Oxford County and part of Hurunui County to form Waimakariri were all done differently.  Even in the space of three years, history didn’t repeat itself!

The replacement of the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) with commissioners suggests that Canterbury is in for another shake-up.  I doubt that ECan will return in its former guise.  I am prepared to work constructively with the Government, the commissioners and neighbouring councils to review the future functions of territorial councils like Waimakariri.  It could well be that district councils will take on some of ECan’s current functions.

We need to make sure, however, that this works to the advantage of ratepayers and residents.

I do not believe that anything would be gained by amalgamations unless there was widespread public support – nor do I think that such moves are likely from the Government.

Town Centres: My Position

19 September 2010

There has been ongoing work on the Kaiapoi and Rangiora Town Centres for some time.

The Kaiapoi one seems to have stalled – it started well before the Rangiora process, yet the Rangiora report is to go to the Council this week.  There also seems to be a lack of  wider community awareness of what was going on in Kaiapoi – but now the earthquake has changed everything.

Obviously the first priority is to finalise the Kaiapoi plan so that reconstruction of the town centre can get under way as soon as possible.  While the damage has not been so great as to demand a complete redesign, the loss of the Museum, for example, does present opportunities.

The Rangiora concept plan will demand expenditure – as will Kaiapoi’s.  The earthquake may cause a reprioritisation, but it is important that work starts soon in both towns and that progress is seen to be being made.

The other challenge is Woodend.  Even if NZTA decides for a bypass soon, we still have at least 15 years in which we need to be developing a viable and attractive town centre for Woodend.

“Affordable” Rates

1 September 2010

Are there any such thing? 

What you find affordable, I might not.  If someone thought rates were unaffordable three years ago, they won’t be finding them affordable now.

Perhaps we could ask those ratepayers in part of Mandeville whose rates have just gone up, in this year alone, by more than 11%.  And no, they are not getting a new water supply – or anything else new.

One Waimakariri District: More on My Position

31 August 2010

The most disunifying action of the Waimakariri District Council since its formation in 1989 has to be the imposition of the 5km rating zone around the Dudley Aquatic Centre.

It only lasted for a year, but it meant that people outside that zone had less reason to contribute to the fundraising.  Local people were being taxed for a facility available to the whole District.

District facilities must be funded District-wide.

One Waimakariri District: My Position

29 August 2010

Ever since I was elected to the Waimakariri District Council in  its first elections, in 1989, I have regarded myself as a Waimakariri councillor not a Rangiora one (I had six years off in 2001-07).

As far as I am concerned, wards are a means of achieving a geographical spread of councillors.  Once elected, however, we are sworn in as Waimakariri councillors and we have to make decisions for the whole District.

One of the challenges has always been to be seen to be “doing” things for the entire District.  It is common for people to say that all the money gets spent in one part of the District rather than others. 

This is exacerbated by the fact that a large part of the District sees Rangiora as its service centre – shopping, professional services, secondary schooling, etc.  A consequence of this is that there is often a demand for improved facilities in Rangiora.

My own view is that there are some facilities that should be available in various parts of the District.  As Woodend and Pegasus grow towards something like their projected combined population of about 10,000, there should be a library facility somewhere there.  We should be looking into the possibility of adding a leisure pool to the Kaiapoi Aquatic Centre,  just as Dudley Park has. 

We can also be looking at the complementarity of facilities, so that what is found in one part of the District can be complemented by what is found in another part.  You wouldn’t, for instance, want to replicate the Rangiora Town Hall in Kaiapoi, but a different, more flexible, kind of performance venue could be considered.

None of this has to happen this year or the next.  But we should be looking forward to the kind of facilities that a District with a population of 60,000+ (currently 46,000) will need.

The important things is that when we put a facility into one part of the District, it needs to be seen as being there for the whole District.

Election Nominations Almost Closed

20 August 2010

Nominations for the Local Government elections close at noon today.

If you want to see the list of people who have put their names forward, go to: 

This District Deserves Better

13 August 2010

A nasty and crude leaflet attacking a Council candidate has been circulating in Woodend.

Needless-to-say, the leaflet expresses nothing positive in support of anyone. And of course it is anonymous – these sorts of things always are because the people who distribute them are afraid to stand up in public and be counted.

The Waimakariri District deserves better than this.

What Mayoral Race?

22 June 2010

It’s still only me and Peter Wakeman in Waimakariri.

Jo Kane is rumoured to be announcing her candidacy in a few days and the Mayor still hasn’t said if he has made up his mind.  Perhaps it’s a case of “you go first”, “no, you”, “no you”.  Perhaps Jo will to do it today as she emerges from her annual shortest-day swim.

Attempt to Change Uniform Annual General Charge Fails

14 May 2010

The Council is currently making its decsions on the 2010-2011 Annual Plan and Budget.

It had already received strong submissions from the farming community requesting that the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) be restored from its current $20 to its former $70.  It went down to $20 only last year.

The UAGC is a charge that all properties pay in their rates.  Raising it has the effect of lowering the general rates for high-value properties and raising them for low-value properties.  This sounds like it is unfair on low-value, usuaully urban, properties, but it needs to be remembered that general rates form a much smaller proportion of total rates for urban properties than they do for rural.  A lot of urban rates are for water, sewer, rubbish collection, etc, which rural properties don’t pay (they pay for their own water, etc).

Lowering the UAGC last year meant that many farms had rate rises in the thousands of dollars for no change in service.  Farmers are saying that this is unfair.

Yesterday an attempt to put the uniform charge back to $70 failed by one vote.  Five voted for (Crs Dan Gordon, Kevin Felstead, Peter Farrant, Elaine Cole and myself) and five against.  In the council’s standing orders, a draw means the motion is lost.  The mayor (who opposed) doesn’t have a casting vote.

My personal view is that the rating structure of this district needs a thorough review.  Rates are not a particularly fair way of taxing people, but ours can be more fairly distributed than they are.

Kirstyn Barnett Announces her Candidacy for the Woodend-Ashley Ward

28 April 2010

Prominent Woodend community leader, Kirstyn Barnett, has anounced her candidacy for the Woodend-Ashley Ward at this year’s Waimakariri District Council elections.

She is well-known for her role in the Woodend Action Group, which has now merged with the Woodend Residents’ Association to form the Woodend Community Association.

She was the instigator of the two large murals recently painted on two walls near the Community Centre and of the walking bus project to take children safely to the Woodend School.

She has been an exemplary voice for Woodend and shown with it a capacity for taking action.

The full text of her announcement can be read in the pages to the right of your screen under the heading Kirstyn Barnett Announcement of Candidacy .

ECan: Ministers Meet the Waimakariri Council

17 March 2010

Environment Minister Nick Smith (raised in Waimakariri!) is doing the rounds of the Canterbury Councils and this morning he came to Waimakariri, joined by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide (also raised here) and locally-based Labour and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson.

They have come to hear the Canterbury Councils’  views (as distinct from the Mayors’) on Environment Canterbury.  There was an exchange of views on ECan’s performance over a long period of time and the short-term measures that could be taken.  We also discussed the long-term: how this process could lead to a deeper reassessment of the Local Government structure in Canterbury.  Hopefully, if this takes place, it will involve all of Canterbury’s people. 

Nick Smith made it clear that where they talk about a separate water authority (my words), they are not just talking about the allocation of water.  They are talking about everything to do with water: flood protection, the river environments, water quality, the sharing of the resource, etc.  This is actually a significant part of ECan’s current work.

We need to remember that ECan does a lot of other stuff too: air quality, urban passenger transport regulation, coast care, civil defence, etc etc – quite a long list.

ECan and the Local Councils

1 March 2010

The recently released report on ECan says:

Territorial authorities (TA’s) within the Canterbury Region unquestionably believe that Environment Canterbury has failed to effectively and efficiently manage freshwater. TA’s view this as institutional failure.

I don’t know how the report can say this.  I have never been asked for my views on this and nor, to my knowedge, has the rest of the Waimakariri District Council.

I wonder how many of the mayors who have spoken behind closed doors on these matters can say they are speaking for their councils.

Last Saturday’s Press said that some of the mayors may be looking beyond a Regional Council and turning the District and City councils into unitary authorities (combining district and regional functions).

I think you, the people, should be given some say on this.

Draft Annual Plan Open for Submission

27 February 2010

The Council’s Draft Annual Plan is open for submissions.  Copies can be obtained from service centres and libraries – and can be found on line at Submissions close on 26 March.

The Annual Plan outlines the Council’s intentions for the coming July-to-June year: what it wants to spend and how it intends to raise the money to pay for it.

In the news media, it has been suggested that if you want more money spent on something you should also indicate where the Council should spend less to compensate.

Don’t believe a word of it!

It’s our job as councillors to work out how to do that, if we need to – not yours.

The Pool is About to Happen!

24 February 2010

It has been a struggle, but the Waimakariri District is about to get its new Dudley Park Pool.

Several years of to-ing and fro-ing culminated in a decision in the previous Council term to build a new one.

Council elections in 2007 brought a majority of councillors who initially decided to re-open the old pool and delay building the new one.  Councillors Robbie Brine, Kevin Felstead and Dan Gordon – and I – were the minority who wanted to get going on it.

Cold facts and the weight of public opinion changed the Council’s mind.  In the end, all but one voted to get on with the job.  The pity was that this had delayed the start of fund-raising and by then the recession had started to bite.

Nevertheless, a Pool Committee team led by Joan Ward and with Jim Gerard leading the major fundraising and Nikki Luisetti the community fundraising, has done a magnificent job.

Still – we now have a pool and early next month we can all swim in it!

If you want to see a recent history, click on the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre file under categories to the right of your screen.

Rangiora Ward Advisory Board Recommends Three New Members

15 February 2010

The Rangiora Ward Advisory Board has two vacancies, brought about by the deaths of Barbara Spurr and Rosina Godfrey.  Three nominations have been received and the Board has asked the Council to vary its policy and appoint all three, given the experience of all three and the fact that there are only a few months before the end of the term.

The three are former Mayor and MP Jim Gerard, former Board Member Lynne Winsloe and a candidate at the last Council election, Greg Miller.

Council Sets Proposed Rates: “Average Rise of 3.5%” means 0.6% for Kaiapoi and 7.5% for Rangiora

9 February 2010

The Council today put its Annual Plan out for consultation.  Watch the news media for when it is available and when submissions close.

You will be told that there is an average rise of 3.5% and this represents a cut in the rate rise from the 6.2% signalled last year in the Ten Year Long Term Plan.  But hang on, this is the same Council that proposed the 6.2%.

The reason for the rise in some areas’ rates are varied.  In Rangiora’s case, it is mainly the cost of the upgraded water scheme that is the cause of it.  Of course, putting a targeted rate on the 5km zone around Dudley Aquatic Centre hasn’t helped the Rangiora ratepayer one bit.

The water scheme is necessary and what is being done is  the best option.  Who I have issue with are those who campaigned at the last election saying that they were going to make rates “affordable” – even although they were told that the water scheme was essential and that the District needed a new pool.

And for the record, I’m not just drawing attention to Rangiora.  “Average 3.5%” means 9.3% in Oxford, 8.8% in Ashley-Sefton, 5.7% in Fernside, and 10% in Summerhill.  In Oxford and Summerhill, new water schemes are the main reason – also signalled before the last election.

The Waimakariri Mayoral Race Gets Under Way – Sort Of

7 February 2010

In the New Year, Peter Wakeman announced that he was standing for both the Waimakariri and Christchurch mayoralties.  (He stood unsuccessfully for the Waimakariri mayoralty at the last election.) This was a somewhat early entry into the race, and I have to wonder if Peter considers himself to be a really serious contender.  In my observation (and I’ve done plenty of observing), the Waimakariri mayor’s job needs to be treated as a full-time position – and Christchurch would be even more demanding.

How anyone could be two mayors at once and do the jobs properly beats me.

A lot of people have asked me if I would stand or am standing for the Waimakariri mayoralty.  My answer is, Peter Wakeman notwithstanding,  that  it’s a bit early to make official announcements.

Alfred Street Remains Closed – Council Decision

7 August 2009

This week, the Waimakariri District Council decided to keep Alfred Street closed.  They decided:

Lets the closure of Alfred Street stand in the meantime and develop a long term plan for Rangiora and from that decide the future form and function of Alfred Street.

Requests staff to bring back to Council a wider strategy report on the Rangiora Town Centre before any enhancement takes place in Alfred Street.

There are a number of problems with this approach.

  1. Those councillors who voted for this ignored a petition of about 4000 people.
  2. They passed up the opportunity to follow the same legal process to reopen the street that was taken to pedestrianise that portion of Alfred Street.
  3. The “long-term plan” consultation process will be muddied by strong community feelings over Alfred Street – in other words, Alfred Street will be a diversion from more important matters (click on Rangiora’s Heart: What Needs to Happen?  in the page list on the right of your screen).
  4. They have implicitly told the people of this District that in developing a long-term plan for central Rangiora, they won’t necessarily listen to those people.
  5. They are going to do nothing until the plan is complete.  This will take at least a year and in my view is unlikely to be complete before the next local body elections in October 2010.  In the meantime, we can all look at those yellow bollards.

To me, it was better to get this issue out of the way by going back to the way Alfred Street was.  That is why I tried to persaude the Council to reopen the street.

I strongly believe that we need a long hard look at Central Rangiora – its structure, the appearance, the parking, the traffic, etc. because a strong retail centre is vital to Rangiora as a town.  See the following blog post.

But this week’s decision has made progress towards that harder.

Why Has ECan Given Kaiapoi an Air Quality Reprieve, but Not Rangiora?

15 July 2009

Kaiapoi and Ashburton have been given an extra year by ECan to meet national air quality standards – but not Rangiora yet.

Rangiora hasn’t had its air standards promulgated yet, because, apparently, someone has appealed against them.

However, with zero pollution exceedences so far this year, we have to wonder what is going on in Rangiora.  Perhaps the town has switched to heat pumps big time.  Or maybe, it’s just good luck with the weather.  We can’t expect Rangiora to go though the winter without having some nights with high pollution levels!

What’s Happening in Rangiora’s High Street?

10 July 2009

A long-overdue upgrade of footpaths, street furniture, etc. is under way.  The street has been looking tired for a long time.

It was hoped that we could do up some of the lanes connecting the street with carparks to the north.  Unfortunately, the Council cut the funding a year ago, so what we are getting is a scaled-back version of what could have been.  Needless-to-say, the decision to cut the funding was not unanimous!

Still No Progress on Alfred Street

8 July 2009

Those who want Alfred Street, Rangiora, re-opened were stymied again yesterday at a council meeting when a motion was put that referred to Local Government Act of 1974 – but with the movers not supplying any information on the section they were referring to, Councillors had little choice to let the matter lie on the table pending legal advice.

The Council staff had offered two alternatives – both quite simple.  Leave it closed or reopen it by going through the same procedure to reopen as was used to close it.  The latter mechanism would have kept faith with those who had taken part in the legal process a couple of years ago.

Does the Auckland Situation have any Relevence to Canterbury / Christchurch / Waimakariri?

15 June 2009

The Government (the Labour-led Government, remember?) decided to do something about Auckland because years of squabbling amongst the four cities (Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere) and the Regional Council had resulted in paralysis.  That, for instance,  is why the whole country is now paying fogesr their failure to plan properly for transport.

Now, as we all know, they are looking at a super-city that is also bringing in three adjacent Districts – Rodney in the north and Franklin and Papakura to the south.

Is this situation paralleled in Canterbury?

The Auckland Regional Council covers only the above cities and districts.  In a sense, the Government (now National-led!) is abolishing the cities and districts and beefing up the regional council.

The Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) stretches well beyond Christchurch, however.  It covers the whole area east of the Main Divide from north of Kaikoura to south of the Waitaki River and is the biggest Region in the country by area.  It is quite a different beast to its Auckland equivalent.

And what about Christchurch?  Well, it already has one council, covering urban Christchurch, some of its rural fringe and all of Banks Peninsula.

And do we squabble?  Well, it is no secret that some councils like to have a go at ECan sometimes, but I would have to say, from a Waimakariri councillor’s perspective, that the cooperation far out weighs the irritation.  One good example is the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy, which is the product of cooperation between ECan, Christchurch City, Waimakariri, Selwyn and the NZ Transport Agency.

So is change in the wind for Canterbury’s local government structure?  Who knows?  My view is that the Government has got its hands full dealing with Auckland in the immediate future, so we might be waiting some time.

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