The future and the environment key themes at Waimakariri Council meeting

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By David Hill

Planning for the future and protecting the environment were the key themes of this week’s Waimakariri District Council meeting.

Councillors voted to adopt the Greater Christchurch Partnership’s “Our Space” document, approved a submission to the government’s Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, approved new footpaths in Kaiapoi and accepted a proposal to test private wells near Kaiapoi for arsenic.

Cr Neville Atkinson was involved in developing the “Our Space” document and said it took considerable perseverance from the partners to reach agreement.

“It took a lot of patience and a lot of time by a lot of groups to get to where we are today.

“But we have to move forward as a region and collectively as Greater Christchurch partners, because if we don’t, it will be done for us.”

Principal policy analyst Cameron Wood said there was flexibility within the document to adapt if population growth occurred faster than predicted.

Population projections will be updated after the 2018 Census data is made available and the document is required to be reviewed every three years under the National Policy Statement for Urban Development, with the first review in 2022.

In its draft submission to the Zero Carbon Bill, the council says it is generally supportive of the four main elements of the bill, but is concerned about how the costs of transitioning to a low-emissions economy and of adaptation will be shared.

Cr Dan Gordon said he supported the submission and called on the council to back calls for a bipartisan approach in Parliament so the bill “will survive general elections”.

Cr Kirstyn Barnett also supported the submission, but requested it strongly advocate for local authorities to work alongside central government.

Councillors approved $22,000 from the Kaiapoi Town Centre budget to be allocated for the extension of high amenity footpaths outside the Riverview development.

A budget of $37,000 has been allocated to allow for water sampling of 30 private wells near Kaiapoi to test for arsenic.

The investigation comes after the council and Environment Canterbury received an assessment notice earlier this year from the Canterbury Medical Officer of Health after arsenic levels in private wells were found to be above acceptable levels.

Three waters manager Kalley Simpson said there is an ongoing conversation with Environment Canterbury and the Canterbury District Health Board around which authority is actually liable in these cases.

There is also the possibility regular testing of water supplies for nitrates will be required in the future.

“Our role in responding to these notices is making sure the advice we are providing is community-focused,” Mr Simpson said.

“But it may be that we have to play a more pro-active role in the future.”

Should arsenic be found in the water supplies there are several options, including onsite treatment or moving the residents to alternative water supplies which could be community-based or private supplies.