By David Hill
Car parking and central government regulations dominated discussion at the Waimakariri District Council’s meeting on Tuesday.
Councillors voted to approve a change of status of a Mandeville plantation reserve to allow for car parking, while government regulations around water and biodiversity continue to cause concern.
The plantation reserve, commonly known as Mandeville Village Reserve, will be changed to “a local purpose community reserve” to alleviate pressure on existing car parks.
Greenspace manager Grant MacLeod said 234 submissions were received during consultation held in December and January, with 171 supporting the proposal to change the status of the reserve and for council staff to add bollards and a shingle drive way.
The project is anticipated to cost up to $8000, which can be funded within existed council budgets and the Mandeville village developer will be approached for a contribution.
Councillors expressed concerns over the proposed new water regulatory authority, Taumata Arowai.
Chief executive Jim Palmer said while the initial proposal is for drinking water standards, there have been clear signals central government intends extending it to cover stormwater and sewer.
He said a recent Cabinet report “makings it clear that the government wants to have a step change to having a small number of water authorities in the country”.
“The status quo is not seen as an option.”
Deputy Mayor Neville Atkinson and Cr Robbie Brine echoed Mr Palmer’s concerns.
“I would be very surprised if the government hasn’t already made up it’s mind that one size does fit it all,” Cr Atkinson said.
“The reason for submitting is to try to get some form of compromise.”
Cr Brine said councillors were elected to protect the “health and wellbeing of our people”.
“My concern is this takes that away from us and gives it to someone who is faceless.”
Cr Kirstyn Barnett said the proposal put the “wellbeing of water before people and I’ve never seen that before”.
Policy manager Geoff Meadows has prepared submissions the Health Select Committee on Taumata Arowai and to the Ministry for the Environment on the proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity to express the council’s concerns.
He said the council has made significant progress, with 12 out of 14 drinking water supplies meeting the national standards, while the Garrymere scheme upgrade is due to be completed this year and consultation will begin this month on the planned upgrade to the Poyntzs Road scheme.
His biodiversity submission notes concerns about the lack of clarity around “no net loss of biodiversity and the size of populations of indigenous species”, the disruption of indigenous fauna by people and their pets, the definition of significant natural areas and a lack of clarity around the responsibility of central government.