North Canterbury Mayors meet over Three Waters Reforms

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By Adam Burns

Some common ground between community leaders, and the Government on Three Waters, has been recognised, Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon says.

But whether the Communities 4 Local Democracy (C4LD) group’s efforts will halt the roll out of the controversial reforms remains to be seen as it continues to lobby for “more workable” alternative options.

Mr Gordon, who is serving as deputy chair of the group, was recently joined by Hurunui Mayor Marie Black and Kaikoura Mayor Craig Mackle for a presentation to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta in Wellington.

A 10 point proposal has been floated by the group, which it believes can achieve “broad and cross party support”.

Some of the key points of the alternative model center around “meaningful” community asset property rights, a “national and objective” subsidy scheme and a partnership with mana whenua around investment decision making.

“The whole local government sector is eager to partner and work with the Government to turn this around and find a lasting solution that councils and communities can all support,” Mr Gordon says.

He says the minister and her officials were interested in the model and asked a several questions of the group.

“We received an acknowledgement from the minister that we agree on several key points,” he says.

“There is still time to find a lasting solution that addresses Three Waters concerns while retaining localism.”

North Canterbury’s community leaders continue to speak out on the current proposal.

Mrs Black says the reforms were not fit for purpose for such districts like the Hurunui.

“These mega entities will never have the same level of community connection and responsiveness of a locally managed and delivered alternatives such as the C4LD have provided.”

Mr Mackle says the Government’s preferred model did not build on local knowledge, or its partnership with iwi.

“These are all core elements to effective reform and I’ll be astounded if the Government continue to push ahead despite almost universal feedback against this.”

The presentation was followed with a letter to Ms Mahuta, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.

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