12 Aug 2014

Greens unveil Christchurch policies

7:56 pm on 12 August 2014

A transport package of nearly $500 million is the centre of the Greens' election policy for Christchurch. It also aims to ensure that the city council can retain its assets and hold regional council elections next year.

Eugenie Sage.

Eugenie Sage. Photo: GREEN PARTY

Transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said on Tuesday that $462 million would fund an upgrade of public transport and cycling facilities and establish Canterbury Transport, a body responsible for the earthquake-damaged city's transport.

It would also include public use of the rail link between the city and nearby Rangiora. Ms Genter said even though the New Zealand Transport Agency rejected the idea, the Greens believe it is financially viable.

Ms Genter said it would only cost $8 million to set up and $3 million to run each year, and if integrated with buses and improved cycle ways, would be very successful.

However, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee defended the Government's record for developing the city's public transport infrastructure.

Mr Brownlee said it is already investing $53 million on a bus interchange which will provide for bicycle storage to give commuters options. Speed limits will also be reduced to 30km/h on the city's key thoroughfares, which will improve safety.

Council assets and elections

The Green Party says if elected on 20 September, it would hold Canterbury Regional Council elections in 2015 and remove Crown appointed commissioners.

Julie Anne Genter.

Julie Anne Genter. Photo: GREEN PARTY

Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage said the current National-led Government has given no firm indication on when regional council elections would take place.

Ms Sage said the Greens would also wind back the emergency powers of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority to allow residents to play a greater part in decision-making.

She said the Government should renegotiate the cost sharing agreement with the Christchurch City Council and not push it to sell its assets. The Greens would delay the construction of a new rugby stadium.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee rejected the claim the Government is forcing the Christchurch City Council to sell its assets.

Mr Brownlee said the Government had committed more than $15 billion to the rebuild and the council accepted it must pay for some of the recovery.

He said any suggestion the Government had pushed the council into exploring its options for how to pay its share of the rebuild was nonsense.