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Feedback sought on ECan’s future governance

18 March 2015

Feedback sought on ECan’s future governance

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston have today announced the Government’s proposal for a mixed-model governance structure for Environment Canterbury (ECan).

“We are proposing a mixed governance model for Environment Canterbury with seven members elected across Canterbury at the local elections in October 2016 and six appointed by Government. This proposal enables a majority of elected representatives while ensuring continued momentum on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and earthquake recovery work,” Dr Smith says.

“We believe the mixed governance model is right for Environment Canterbury at this time. It has provided a successful model for district health boards. It enables a local democratic say while also ensuring stability and the specialist skills to deal with the very challenging issues, including water and earthquake recovery,” Ms Upston says.

“The commissioners have done an outstanding job in addressing the acute governance problems identified in the independent review of Environment Canterbury in 2010. While Canterbury had no water plan then, it now has the most comprehensive of any region in New Zealand. The commissioners have successfully rebuilt good working relationships with all 10 councils and with Ngāi Tahu. Where Canterbury had the worst record of any council in 2010 with 71 per cent of consents exceeding statutory timeframes, this is now down to just five per cent. It speaks volumes that Environment Canterbury in 2014 received the Institute of Public Administration’s top Excellence in Regulatory Systems award,” Dr Smith says.

“It is essential for Canterbury’s future that we maintain the strong working relationships between councils that the commissioners have led. That is why we met with all 10 mayors last month on this proposal and why we will be meeting with all 10 Canterbury councils across the region before the Government makes final decisions,” Ms Upston says.

“We considered other options of a fully elected council and alternatives that involved substantive changes to council functions. Our preliminary view is that these carry too many risks given the critical stage of work on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and the earthquake recovery. It may be appropriate to consider these options beyond 2019,” Dr Smith says.

The discussion document is available for public consultation and submissions close on 1 May 2015. Further information including on how to make a submission is available at:


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