Canterbury homeowners face 24.2% rates rise

10:18 am on 29 February 2024
Environment Canterbury discusses its draft 2024/34 Long Term Plan on Wednesday. Photo: David Hill / North Canterbury News [LDR single use only]

Environment Canterbury discusses its draft 2024/34 Long Term Plan on Wednesday. Photo: North Canterbury News / David Hill

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporting

Canterbury's rivers and public transport are in the spotlight as the region's ratepayers face a hefty 24.2 percent average rates rise.

Environment Canterbury adopted its draft 2024/34 Long Term Plan on Wednesday, predicting an average rate rises of 24.2 percent and 13.6 percent over the next two years.

Ensuring the region's rivers are resilient to flooding in the face of climate change and developing a ''world class'' public transport system are priorities over the next 10 years, chairperson Peter Scott said.

''I think it is big enough,'' he said, when commenting on the 24.2 percent rates rise.

''We are being honest with ratepayers with what our business as usual costs are.''

Given the increased number of major flood events in recent years, he said the council needed to put measures in place to ensure rivers can cope with increased volumes of water.

Scott said the council had already begun implementing measures to improve public transport in Christchurch and to improve the links with the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts, by buying more electric buses and increasing the frequency of services.

But several of the promises in the Long Term Plan were subject to government commitments, Scott said.

''We have got all this public transport uplift in our planning and Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) has encouraged us to do this work.

''If the Government Policy Statement (on land transport) comes out and says we are going to concentrate on other things, then we will need to re-look at it.''

Councillor Grant Edge, who chairs the audit, finance and risk committee, said the Long Term Plan addressed climate change.

''It will enable the delivery of issues related to intergenerational planning and it is a continuation of the council's declaration of a climate emergency in 2019.''

Councillors Tutehounuku Korako and Iaean Cranwell noted this could be the only Long Term Plan with input from elected Ngāi Tahu councillors, given the government's stated intention to repeal the Ngāi Tahu representation legislation.

Engagement with then region's 10 Papatipu Rūnanga was no longer just an ''aspiration'', but was now a requirement, Korako said.

''It is a hefty rates rise, but we need to ensure we can protect and take care of the environment.''

Councillors Claire McKay and Deon Swiggs voted against adopting the draft Long Term Plan, expressing their opposition to the 24.2 percent rates rise in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

''It feels to me like this table is tone deaf to what our ratepayers are facing,'' McKay said.

They were not alone in their concerns, with councillor David East describing the rates hike as ''unpalatable'' and councillor Ian Mackenzie describing a culture ''of curing the world's problems by throwing money at it''.

The draft Long Term Plan will be out for consultation from 13 March to 14 April, with hearings scheduled to begin at the end of April.

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