28 Mar 2020

Canterbury settlement faces 700 percent fee hike, despite virus

4:43 pm on 28 March 2020

Covid-19 has not stopped a Canterbury council planning a 700 percent increase in the annual licence fee for its Selwyn Huts settlement.

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Residents of the Selwyn Huts area in Canterbury face a 700 percent increase in council fees. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

While many councils around the country are looking at rates relief for those suffering financially due to the coronavirus, Selwyn District Council is asking Huts' residents to pay for a multi-million dollar new sewage scheme.

Their fees will almost double this year and continue to rise over the next three years, to $4618.

The change was passed at a meeting of the council after the Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced last week.

Hut owner Graham Evans said the increases should be delayed because of financial pressure many people faced due to Covid-19.

"It's a huge stress at this time, extra stress that you don't need. It makes me feel for those people that are out there because this is their home."

However, Mayor Sam Broughton said the Selwyn Huts licence agreement was about to expire and a delay was not possible.

"Those costs are there ... because of the work that's been done," Broughton said.

"This is not just dropping something on people. There have been a lot of conversations over the last few years."

The council was considering allowing people to make verbal submissions on the fees hike, Broughton said.

Sea level rise means land next to Lake Waihora will not be able to treat sewage in the future.

About 100 people live permanently at Selwyn Huts - a collection of 97 baches nestled alongside the Selwyn River. The huts are also used by holidaymakers.

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