Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Canterbury Council shapes 10-year plan for region

Acting Chair, Craig Pauling.

Canterbury Regional Council says community feedback has played a crucial role in shaping changes to its draft Long-Term Plan 2024-34.

After two days of deliberations, Councillors agreed on key components of a 10-year workplan and budget for the three core services the Council is responsible for: Environmental Regulation and Protection, Community Preparedness and Response to Hazards, and Public Transport.

The Council says changes to the options released for public consultation have resulted in a total increase in rates revenue of 17.9% in Year 1 (2024/25) – down from the 24.2% proposed for consultation.

The actual rates for each property will vary depending on location and what targeted rates apply, the Council says.

“We tested the water with some bold options in our consultation and the response demonstrated there were mixed views, with some saying we needed to deliver more, while others identified we could make savings or prioritise work. We’ve tried to find the best balance,” said Council’s Acting Chair, Craig Pauling.

More than 1,300 individuals and organisations made submissions on the draft proposals during the consultation period in March and April. 153 people and groups spoke in person during hearings held over four days.

“It was important we listened to the community, and I hope people can see the value of their contribution in the decisions we have made. The submissions sent in, as well as those heard by the Council, have definitely had an influence in our final decisions,” said A/Chair Pauling.

He says one area that changed due to feedback was Council’s fees and charges schedule. Council had proposed a fixed-fee model for charging for the processing of consent applications.

“We went out with a new proposal and, because of what we heard, we have made changes to how that will be implemented. We will now apply a mixed model, with a fixed fee for simple consent applications that utilise the direct decision pathway, while other consent applicants will pay a deposit and charges for actual work done to process their application,” said A/Chair Pauling.

Environmental Regulation and Protection

The Council decided to proceed with Option 2 for Environmental Regulation and Protection, including the targeted rate for Christchurch and Banks Peninsula to raise $1 million in Year 1 to support biodiversity work in the district.

It also agreed to begin work on the review of the Regional Coastal Environment Plan for Canterbury in 2025.

“Waitaha Canterbury has a significant coastal area, with areas of special significance in and around Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū Banks Peninsula. The current Coastal Plan dates back to 2005 and we know there have been changes in land use and with marine biodiversity. We have to do this work, and it will be a useful input into the integrated planning framework we are also developing,” said A/Chair Pauling.

Community Preparedness and Response to Hazards

Option 2 was approved for inclusion in the final Long-Term Plan with the inclusion of an additional $200,000 for regional parks maintenance

“The work we do in this service is critical. The most obvious thing to most people will be the river resilience and flood management work, and there is a host of national and local infrastructure at risk, so it makes sense to invest in their protection.”

“I’m also really pleased with the way we’ve worked to address issues raised by Selwyn District Council and the people in that district to implement a district-wide rate to fund river resilience and flood management,” said A/Chair Pauling.

Public Transport

The Council confirmed its investment in public transport services by approving Option 1, with some amendments leading to some reductions in the targeted rate across Greater Christchurch.

The key decisions related to delaying some work to enable government decisions to be clearer, including:

  • Delaying work on the mass transit business case until year 2 – $600,000 reduction in Year 1;
  • Delaying work on route 1 improvements to align with improvements to Waimakariri centres – $2.9 million in Year 2 moved to Year 3;
  • Delaying the start of route 7 uplift until January 2025 – $500,000 reduction in Year 1.

There were also two key decisions to support further work in key areas of the network, including:

  • Increase funding by $400,000 in Year 1 to enable early engagement with Halswell and the rest of the community, on the rest of network business case.
  • Bring forward the improvements to the direct service between the main urban centres in Selwyn (Rolleston and Lincoln) and Christchurch City from Year 3 – $800,000 increase in Year 2.

“We know this is an area where investment is needed. Our community has told us repeatedly we need to do more with our public transport services.”

“We’ve worked hard with our partner councils and providers to identify ways to transform our services and ensure we can meet the needs of our growing urban areas. We are also dependant on central government funding so need to consider that while sending the message that we still want to invest further,” said A/Chair Pauling.

The decisions made at deliberations will be applied to the draft Long-Term Plan before Audit NZ review it. It will then be presented to Council for adoption on 26 June.

Latest Articles