Environment Canterbury has offered the government a compromise between the status quo and the recommendations of the independent review panel on the regional council.
ECan is offering the government what its chair Alec Neill describes as an olive branch.
They’re suggesting the government appoint a commissioner-advisor to manage the region’s water.
They also recommend an external advisory group be set up to assist the commissioner and councillors.
“We’ve come up with what we believe ticks all the boxes for the Government to carry out their direction as to water but allows for the community to retain elected representation.”
The intention was for ECan elections to still go ahead this year, Neill said.
The advisory group would comprise two members of Local Government New Zealand’s regional affairs committee, one Ngai Tahu representative, one member of the Canterbury Mayoral forum, Neill and the commissioner-adviser.
The review panel’s recommendation to sack the council and appoint a commissioner would have requried legislation.
ECan’s offer would mean there is no need for that, provide an opportunity for improved water management in the region and still allow council elections in October.
This isn’t as radical as the review panel’s recommendations but it would retain democratic elections and enable action to improve the region’s water management much sooner than any changes which required legislation.
The need for improved management of Canterbury’s water is urgent and if ECan’s plan was accepted work could start immediately.