Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Central Plains Water Deal.....Public or Private?

Central Plains Water and Synlait have announced a deal over resource consents for water from the Rakaia river.

I was very concerned and disappointed to read about something as significant as this given the controversial circumstances surrounding the whole CPW issue without having some sort of prior discussionn between the CPW Trust and the settlors of it (eg. The Christchurch City Council).

It appears that this is a major departure from the purpose behind the CPW Trust which I understood was for charitable purposes for benefit of the present and future inhabitants of the Regions.

In effect I believe it would not be unreasonable for the public to be of the view that this is commercialisation of a scheme set up as a charitable trust.

I look forward to an urgent response to the following questions that I have asked of Central Plains Water and Council staff, including:

1. Why has this not been discussed with the Settlors prior to a decision being made and the media notified?

2. What is the commercial gain for Synlait from this deal?

3. How does this fit with the charitable purposes of the Trust?

4. What impact does this have on the current application by CPW for a resource consent for the CPW scheme?

Water is a major issue for our city and our community. It is my personal view that it must be treated as a sacred resource and used wisely and strategically. As such I am very concerned about these latest developments between a charitable trust and a private company. It is important that my questions are answered so as to ensure citizens can have confidence that this is in the best interest of the people of Christchurch and Canterbury.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Higher and higher and lower and lower

So much fuss over Environment Day, which is cool to celebrate but it’s a bit like Christmas. Everyone makes a fuss of being good and giving but what about the rest of the year? Pretending to care about the earth for one day doesn’t change the fact that we should do something about it 365 days and not just one.

The development at any cost to the environment mentality is alive and well and Council has been involved in several key decisions. Without any public consultation it passed its South of Lichfield Masterplan, a key feature which is the buy back deal over the next few years of properties to Mr Dave Henderson (who interestingly enough was the only member of the public consulted and involved).

This plan moves to lower building height in the area because it considers the height limits are too generous. At the same time, Council has just decided to fundamentally change the future of New Brighton by allowing a massive increase in height limits to 30 meters in some parts. How ironic is that??.

I voted against the New Brighton plan change because I am deeply concerned about the impact on the local community and the local environment. Anyone who has been to the Gold Coast or Waikiki in Hawaii will know how tall buildings along a coastal area absolutely destroy the character of the local neighbourhoods. Besides, do we really have the population in Christchurch that wants to live in shoeboxes along the beach? I’ve heard the Ferrymead Tower apartments have been very slow to sell. As for the Master Plan for the South, despite the propaganda saying it is to encourage people to live in the inner city, there is no mention of affordability in the 100+ page document. And it is largely silent on Community and Social objectives although there is reference to $350 pw apartments units being a goal. Sounds pretty pricey to me!

DRINKING and Drinking and drinking.

I went to a public meeting organized by the Police to hear from the Community what the big issues are they want tackled. Interestingly enough the Police say that 80% of people being locked up are under some influence of alcohol. It was good to hear that the hype surrounding drugs being so bad and so evil is far from the reality when compared to the huge negative impact of booze. I have long argued that the drug laws in this country should be changed and that Christchurch should lead the way. Speaking at J-Day last month, I talked about the need for a revolution in our approach to criminalizing drug use. It is interesting to note that our sister city, Seattle, instructed the police to stop focusing so much on cannabis crimes and spend more time on violent crimes. This has been a very successful approach. Let’s face it, if you got your house broken into, would you rather have your burglary attended to and dealt with or someone locked up for smoking a joint?

Back to drinking, council has just ratified some new and extended alcohol ban bylaws. These bylaws mean no drinking in public in the Central City 24/7 and also place lesser restrictions in areas such as Sumner, New Brighton, Jellie Park, Northlands, Colombo Street. If you get caught, it’s a fine of up to $20,000 and a criminal conviction. So the next time you feel like having a drink in public be careful.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Second, on a more serious note, the Government has introduced its new RMA changes and is currently going through its select committee process. I spent 40 minutes commuting to the airport Sudima Hotel, only to be given about 2 minutes to speak. What a farce. The whole process to fundamentally change the way the City Planning works has been a typical rush job.

I believe the changes introduced by the Resource Management (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment Bill appears to make it easier for developers to do whatever they like and harder for the community to be involved. There is already huge frustration in local communities about how hard it is to participate in city planning matters. The bill will make that worse by reducing the notification requirements and by putting barriers in place such as security of costs.

The concern is that many in the community are unaware of the changes. It real terms if the bill becomes law, it basically it means much much easier for things like: big orange blobs next to nature reserves, ugly skyscrapers along the coast, and low quality high density housing projects that destroy local neighbourhoods. The irony of course is that these things are happening already.

I agree it’s time the RMA was changed, but it should be to offer better protection for the environment rather than reduce it. You can find the Governments view at

Nz Music Month. Yay for May!

First up its New Zealand music month in May. It’s a real tribute to all those in the local music industry who have kept flag flying for more local content on radio and got behind such events. I believe the music and media industry is a global giant made up of multi-national corporations. Their ambition is to spend the fewest dollars to make the biggest bucks. New Zealand is one of the few countries that does not have a natural language barrier to stop us from being over-ridden with cheap imported American, Australian, and English pop culture. That is why things like a Music Industry Commission, a New Zealand Music Month, and local Christchurch organization Chart are so important. I am stoked that the City Council has been so positive in its support for these events over recent years, especially the city libraries who get right behind it. Don’t miss your chance to support local musicians and creativity by attending Chartfest. It is on again this year at the Town Hall, May 29th. Be great to see you there!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The LTCCP. Meh, What a Mouthful!

The LTCCP. This jargon stands for the Long Term Council Community Plan. In short this is the most important document that Council produces and is only done once every three years. It tells you how Council will spend the money over the next 10 years on a variety of things from expensive capital works projects (tram extensions, new swimming pools and libraries, etc) to the operational levels of service (eg how often your street gets cleaned, what hours libraries and swimming pools are open, etc etc).

One item of concern in the draft LTCCP to me is the Council raising of on street car parking charges from $2.60 to $2.90 per hour. It is pure revenue raising and far too steep an increase for my liking. I’m all for public transport and alternative methods of getting to school and work but driving people out of the central city when they can park at malls for free seems like madness to me.

This really is the bible of Council spending over the next 10 years and as such it is important you make you views known on the draft version. Comment on what you like and what you don’t and also don’t be afraid to raise things that aren’t mentioned. Often in these documents it is what is not put in that is key. The draft version will be available from March 10th – April 16th for public submissions. (There will also be public meetings also which you can attend to learn more). Check the website for details.

Final message. I was fortunate to see Obama be sworn in as president in the USA. What an awesome experience. But the best thing was seeing how he had inspired people that didn’t care about politics to get motivated. A key theme to his speeches was that it is not up to someone else to sort out our problems, but that it is up to all of us to do what we can for our communities and our societies to find solutions. Everyone is important and everyone needs to be involved. Choice.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Council Abandons Historic Aidanfield Farm Buildings

Last week I lost the vote to get the Council to purchase and protect the historic Aidanfield Farm Buildings.

According to the Council's own report:

"The St John of God (Mount Magdala) Farm buildings in their current form have high regional and moderate national heritage significance and therefore should be considered with the Deans’ farm buildings to be the most significant heritage farm buildings remaining in Christchurch."

This is sad. This is the Council abandoning an important part of our local history and heritage. It constantly amazes me how easily some greedy developers can conduct cultural terrorism by holding heritage buildings hostage. They then demand excessive amounts of money from a public body in order to secure their safety.

Of course if Council had a stronger heritage policy and City Plan then perhaps this would not be so easy to do. It is totally time to enhance the City Plan and provide better mechanisms for saving our heritage. I want my grandchildren to enjoy what makes Christchurch and Canterbury unique. I want them to be able to experience first hand the feelings of seeing and touching our history.

This was the first true test of the new Council's committment to protecting heritage. Unfortunately it did not pass.