From our Chair: Changes are coming

I wanted to update you on some of the legislation and projects we’ve been working on that will likely mean change for you, and the way you manage your property and business.

Last month, after years of community collaboration, amendments were made to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) to make Plan Change 2 operative and Plan Change 7 partially operative.

The changes are zone-specific and include new minimum flows and limits on the volume of surface water and groundwater available for use.

The changes also identify key habitats for indigenous freshwater species, additional freshwater bathing sites and salmon spawning areas.

For some of you, this means that new restrictions will be brought in to protect freshwater quality and quantity, and some existing activities that didn’t previously require resource consent, now do.

In addition, Plan Change 7 includes new requirements for farmers in the Ōrāri Temuka Ōpihi Pareora (OTOP) and Waimakariri zones, to make greater nitrogen loss reductions and exclude stock from waterways.

These changes were made because we needed to meet central government objectives under the Essential Freshwater package and improve environmental outcomes for parts of the region.

Government Policy Statement on Land Transport

Together with the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, we have responded to the Draft 2024 Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS) to express our concern about the lack of funding that has been proposed for Canterbury.

Thankfully, the draft GPS includes provisions for two significant road projects that are well overdue, the Christchurch Northern Link and a second Ashburton Bridge. Both projects will improve access and provide economic benefits to the region and national economy.

However, we are disappointed other projects and aspirations that we have earmarked for the region have been overlooked. We’re hoping that a new government will consider our submission and make some changes to what has been proposed.

What’s our future, Canterbury?

Earlier this year we asked you to help us answer, ‘What’s our future, Canterbury?’ We ran an online survey, and hosted webinars and in-person events which were well attended.

We asked this question because we are in the process of updating some of our key planning documents and wanted to know what kind of place you want Waitaha/Canterbury to be in the years to come.

In the coming weeks we’ll come back to you about what we’ve heard, and provide information about some proposed Freshwater Management Unit boundaries. We’re also interested to hear your thoughts on different flood management tools, and want to get your opinion on some environmental and climate change aspirations that we have for the region. Keep an eye on our website for updates.

By the time you hear from me again, we may have a new Government.

This could mean there will be new challenges for us to navigate as a regional council, but it will also give us some opportunities that we plan to make the most of.

Advocating for Canterbury after the election

In the lead-up to the election, I met with more than a dozen politicians and candidates who responded to the open letter that I sent to political parties and government-hopefuls.

The letter urged candidates to consider the important contribution Canterbury makes to the national economy as they made election promises. It also highlighted some of the pressures and issues we’re grappling with as a region, and spelled out our expectations for how we want to work with the next government.

I will have more to say on the election outcome in the coming months, but in the meantime, I hope the conversations I have had with future decision-makers will result in positive changes for Canterbury.

If you wish to contact me, email me at