by Greta Yeoman
The Timaru District Council has backed calls by other South Canterbury councils to retain the region’s two representatives on Environment Canterbury.
Late last week, three of South Canterbury’s district councils – Mackenzie, Waimate and Waitaki – put out a joint statement calling on the Canterbury-wide regional council to give the South Canterbury region two council representatives.
At present, there is one South Canterbury representative on the council, but the joint submission sought the election of two South Canterbury councillors.
Timaru District Council member Paddy O’Reilly told The Courier on Tuesday afternoon that the district council members had unanimously voted to support their district council counterparts’ plan to ask for two representatives.
“[We have] the sea, rivers, lakes and different environmental areas.”
Waimate mayor Craig Rowley believed one representative was inadequate and said the regional council should return to two, which was how the council was set up before government-appointed commissioners took over from elected members in 2010.
“[One member] is insufficient to represent the diversity of the region.”
The discussion on council numbers is due to an ECan representation review before it returns to a fully democratically elected council during local government elections next year.
The review proposal included dividing Christchurch’s area into four constituencies of North, West, Central and South Christchurch – which each would have two elected members – along with giving North and Mid Canterbury two representatives for each area, while South Canterbury would have one.
submission argued there were strongly different interests between “metropolitan Christchurch and rural Canterbury” and there needed to be adequate representation, he said.
“Environment Canterbury is primarily responsible for the effective management of land and water, and these issues are extremely important in the predominantly rural configuration of South Canterbury.”
He said the current proposal as part of the representation review would mean there were eight councillors for Christchurch and only five for Mid, North, and South Canterbury.
“[If this] is adopted. we do not agree that this is fair representation, particularly when we know there are conflicting interests between the rural and urban communities.”
The deadline for submissions about the representation review will close on Monday.