From our Chair: Draft Long-Term Plan adopted for consultation

Yesterday marked a milestone for the elected members of the Canterbury Regional Council, with their draft Long-Term Plan 2021-31 adopted for public consultation.

Jenny Hughey

Jenny Hughey, Chair, Environment Canterbury

From 8 March we will be asking for your feedback on the activity proposed in the plan, and we really need to hear from you.

Step-change environmental outcomes

Long-Term Plans, updated every three years, outline a Council’s commitment to the community, detailing the work the Council intends to do over a ten-year period, and importantly, how it will be paid for (our budget).

The Council is considering how it can step-change environmental outcomes, partly funded by increased regional council rates.

There has been considerable robust discussion about how far and how fast we can reasonably expect to drive our work.

People’s ability to pay has been at the forefront of Council discussions, and it’s important to note that some of our investment is to meet existing commitments, or attract funding from other sources, enabling us to deliver more – including jobs that support Covid recovery and a better public transport network.

Two options for consultation

Council would like the community to consider two options for consultation. As presented, Option 1 represents work costing $246.54m – about $46m more than this year – and an average rates increase in year one of $136 per rateable property.

That would deliver all statutorily required work, and provision to accelerate key projects, including public transport and the Government’s new Essential Freshwater package. $143m of that would be rate-funded, with the remainder made up of Government grants and Council user-pays charges.

As presented, Option 2 represents work costing $240.19m – about $40m more than this year – and an average increase in year one of $110 per rateable property. It will deliver all statutorily required work, but compared to Option 1 some projects are delayed, scaled back or not proposed to be funded. $135m of that would be rate-funded, with the remainder made up of Government grants and Council user-pays charges.

We know these are not insignificant amounts of money, but Council has determined we will consult with the community on the full extent of what could be done, and what it costs – and ask our fellow Cantabrians how far and how much we are able to achieve together.

Tell us what you think

These are big decisions and Council wants your feedback. We need to balance the cost to our region should we not take this action with the cost of undertaking the activity we have outlined in the draft plan. It is important we hear your views. I urge you to be informed, consider what is important, and to tell us what you think.

Consultation will run from 8 March to 11 April. When consultation opens, you’ll be able to find out more, including how these options could impact on your regional council rates bill, and make a submission. If you’d like to know more, contact your regional councillor