22 May 2014

Rates break for flood-hit residents

9:52 pm on 22 May 2014

The Christchurch City Council has agreed to stop charging rates for residential properties made uninhabitable by recent flooding.

Councillors unanimously voted on Thursday to approve the 100 percent rates relief to help those forced out of their damaged homes since the beginning of March this year.

Lianne Dalziel.

Lianne Dalziel. Photo: RNZ

The rates relief will be offered through until the end of June 2015, with the council expecting short-term remediation work to be completed within the next few months.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the council is aware of the hardship suffered by ratepayers badly affected in March and April.

She said the 100 percent rates remission applies to properties on the Flooding Taskforce list of vulnerable properties when repairs to make them habitable can't proceed without further council action to reduce the flooding risk.

Ms Dalziel said ratepayers who have evacuated flood-damaged homes not yet on the Task Force list can apply to the council to have their eligibility assessed.

Owners will not have to pay any rates until their homes are suitable for reoccupation and will be backdated to the date of the property was evacuated but no earlier than 5 March this year.

Residents in flood-stricken areas of Christchurch have welcomed the council's move, but it will mitigate only some of the challenges they face.

Jo Byrne, who lives in flood-prone Flockton Basin and a spokesperson for affected residents, says it's a nice gesture, but $180 of rates relief a month will make little difference when people are homeless.

"There's some acknowledgement of the situation that we're in - the council infrastructure combined with the earthquake related flooding - we've got lots of complex issues to face."

Ms Byrne told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme a more pressing problem is the expiry of insurance payouts for alternative accommodation for those forced from their homes by flooding.

Many people are homeless or living in motels or with friends and the Government needs to get involved, she said.

Properties in the Flockton Basin have been repeatedly flooded.

Properties in the Flockton Basin have been repeatedly flooded. Photo: RNZ

Little River on Banks Peninsula.

Little River on Banks Peninsula. Photo: Neil Brown

Onus on Banks Peninsula residents

Residents on Banks Peninsula have been told they must solve their flooding problems themselves.

The Christchurch City Council held the first of its community meetings in flood-affected areas in Little River on Wednesday night.

Unlike flooding in Christchurch city, the problems in Little River are largely caused by debris blocking waterways and stopping floodwater flowing into nearby Lake Forsyth.

Council representatives told the meeting it is up to individual landowners to clear the debris.

Little River resident Geoff Marks said it's a bureaucratic mess, with many different agencies involved with different bits of land.

Mr Marks said clearing the debris is a big burden for many landowners and they will need help from the local community or council.