From our Chair: Speaking up

Jenny Hughey, Chair, Environment Canterbury

Jenny Hughey, Chair, Environment Canterbury

Please don’t be shy. We want to hear from you, says Environment Canterbury Chair Jenny Hughey.

We all have a voice and we all have valid opinions. But sometimes the process of standing up to be heard and speaking publicly can seem a nerve-racking thing to do.

When local government is working as it should, people who have something to say should feel comfortable about doing just that in a supportive environment.

At Environment Canterbury (the regional council), we encourage your input, whether you want to speak out at the start of a council meeting, or put in a submission on a resource consent or a draft plan, or talk directly to one of our regional councillors.

Council meetings - your chance to speak up

At the start of our council meetings we have a special session called a Public Forum.

You are invited to come along and talk to your elected councillors during this time. All you need to do is let us know prior to the start of the meeting.

Our monthly council meetings are open to the public. Even if you do not wish to speak, everyone is welcome to listen to the councillors in action.

Meetings are held once a month, generally at 11am on a Thursday, in the council chamber at our offices at 200 Tuam Street in Christchurch. The next meeting is scheduled for 27 August. You can find the full schedule of meetings on our council and committee meeting page.

Attending a meeting - how it works

Council meetings follow a set public agenda, with the agenda being published in advance so you can see which topics will be discussed. Generally we go through the minutes from previous meetings and then get into the business of the day.

Occasionally councillors need to discuss confidential matters relating to individuals or commercial activities. This exclusion is usually at the end of the meeting.

So once again if you have anything that you want to bring to the attention of councillors, at the start of the monthly meeting in the Public Forum you can speak for 5 to 10 minutes on any matter that is relevant to the Council.

You can also speak to items on the agenda. If you would like to speak in person, give a PowerPoint presentation or Skype councillors, we just ask that you please request this at least a day ahead of the meeting so we can ensure we are set up for you.

In addition you might like to present a petition with more than 20 signatures.

While councillors may ask questions, they will not immediately debate issues raised. Instead the issue will be referred to the Chief Executive for the earliest possible investigation and response.

Other ways to have your say

If council meetings aren’t your thing, there are other ways you can become involved.

You can contact us, attend community meetings, make submissions on our environmental plans, chat with us on Facebook and even invite a councillor for a coffee with your group or to talk to a meeting you are holding.

Environment Canterbury's online engagement site and community panel is another place where you can have your say on any current topics and the management of Canterbury's environment and resources.

However it feels best for you to do it, the most important thing is that you speak up, tell us what you think, and engage with your regional council. We want to hear from you.

*Cr Jenny Hughey is the chair of Environment Canterbury. Find out more about our councillors.