9 Oct 2012

Single authority suggested for Canterbury

8:22 pm on 9 October 2012

A report to the Government says a united council system in Canterbury would only be possible once the region's quake recovery is well underway.

The report, given to Local Government Minister David Carter in April this year, says a unitary authority with an elected leader could be considered for Canterbury for the 2016 elections.

The report was prepared by the commissioners appointed by the Government to run the regional council in 2009, and released publicly following a request under the Official Information Act.

It says the new council structure could work when major rebuild issues have been dealt with and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) is redundant.

The commissioners say any changes to local government in the meantime would lead to a loss of focus and progress on earthquake recovery and the region's water management strategy.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says once the quake recovery and changes to water management have been dealt with, a change could be necessary.

"The situation around Christchurch and the patterns for growth shift dramatically from where they were two years ago.

"It does seem sensible at some point when we are firmly enough into our recovery to have some space to do it. We're talking with our communities about is this the time to start looking at a better system."

Mr Parker says it is too early to say whether a super council is a good option for the region.

The report recommends that the change be considered for the 2016 local body elections. However, David Carter says he does not see a unitary authority in Canterbury happening in the next five years.

Waimakariri District mayor David Ayers does not support the recommendation, saying there is no reason for a fast-growing district such as his to amalgamate with a neighbouring city.