ECan commissioners have recommended that a unitary authority be considered for Canterbury for the 2016 elections.
I’m supportive of the idea of unitary authorities in general.
Separate city or district and regional councils add costs and layers of bureaucracy which could be reduced if their functions came under one local body.
But Canterbury is too big and diverse for a single council.
The size of the existing regional council, dominance of Christchurch and distance from it has always been problematic for people in that part of the Waitaki District which comes under ECan, it would be even worse under a single authority.
The Waitaki River has long been a physical and social boundary between Canterbury and Otago, but there could be a case for combining the Waitaki, Waimate and Mackenzie councils as a unitary authority.
It might need Timaru as well to give the numbers and rating base for a viable council and that would provide a reasonable urban/rural balance.
The districts north of the Rangitata River could unite to form another unitary authority with Christchurch.
Two unitary authorities might work, one over such a large area with so many disparate concerns and issues would not.