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ECan Bill ensures smooth transition for Canterbury

Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for the Environment

Hon Louise Upston
Associate Minister of Local Government

13 October 2015

Media Statement
ECan Bill ensures smooth transition for Canterbury

The first reading of a Bill to establish a mixed governance council for Environment Canterbury (ECan) at next year’s local body elections ahead of a return to a fully elected council in 2019 has been welcomed today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston.

“ECan has made huge progress under the Commissioners appointed in 2010, from developing a comprehensive water plan, to supporting the earthquake recovery and in rebuilding relationships with the region’s 10 councils and Ngai Tahu. The phased approach of the Environment Canterbury (Transitional Governance Arrangements) Bill will ensure an orderly transition to a fully elected council in 2019,” Dr Smith says.

The Bill’s mixed governance plan means a majority of ECan councillors will be elected at the local body elections in October 2016, with four elected at large in Christchurch, one elected from North Canterbury for the districts of Kaikōura, Hurunui and Waimakariri, one elected from mid-Canterbury for the Selwyn and Ashburton districts, and one from South Canterbury representing the Timaru, Mackenzie, Waimate districts and the parts of Waikati north of the Waitaki River.

The chair and deputy chair of the mixed model council will be elected post-October 2016 by the elected and appointed councillors. The mixed council will carry out a representation review in 2018 under the standard Local Government Act provisions to determine the make-up and wards of the fully elected council for 2019.

“The people of Canterbury need certainty and continued stable governance to deal with the unique challenges of their region, such as the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and earthquake recovery work. It is encouraging that a majority of Canterbury’s 10 councils supported the mixed model subject to the return to a fully elected council in 2019. This transitional approach to restoring a fully elected council fits well with the Government’s broader programme of progressively restoring Canterbury to normal governance arrangements post-earthquake,” Ms Upston says.

“Commissioners have successfully shifted ECan from being a laggard on water management to being a leader. They have rebuilt relationships so strongly with Canterbury’s councils and Ngai Tahu that they have jointly developed a comprehensive economic recovery plan. This transition back to a fully elected council over four years is the best way to ensure this positive momentum is maintained on these critical issues for Canterbury,” Dr Smith says.

The Bill will be referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee following its first reading in Parliament, with the public having a further opportunity to make oral and written submissions later this year.

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