Eco­nomic blue­print un­der fire

The Press - - News - NICK TRUEBRIDGE

Christchurch has a new eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy, but it has at­tracted strong crit­i­cism from a city coun­cil­lor who says it does not pri­ori­tise the im­por­tance of the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Christchurch Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy 2017 has been ap­proved by coun­cil­lors af­ter it was re­viewed and up­dated by the Can­ter­bury De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, now ChristchurchNZ.

It sets goals such as grow­ing GDP by 33 per cent to $26 bil­lion and at­tract­ing 25,500 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents to study in Christchurch by 2031.

The strat­egy iden­ti­fies ‘‘gamechanger projects’’ such as new cy­cle­ways and an­chor projects, in­clud­ing the health and in­no­va­tion precincts.

But coun­cil­lor Yani Jo­han­son took aim at one of the strat­egy’s pri­or­i­ties – to max­imise the value of land-based pro­duc­tion.

One project in the strat­egy was sup­port­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of new ir­ri­ga­tion schemes, and im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency of ex­ist­ing schemes, to sus­tain­ably use wa­ter. How­ever, an amend­ment saw the word­ing changed to in­clude ex­ist­ing schemes only.

‘‘I think that needs to be changed to ac­tu­ally min­imis­ing and mit­i­gat­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal harm of the land-use pro­duc­tion.

‘‘It’s fo­cused on a lot of things that are just busi­ness as usual in terms of an old way of think­ing about where the world’s go­ing and par­tic­u­larly around not a very clear pri­or­ity of the en­vi­ron­ment be­ing the ut­most im­por­tance.’’

The Lin­wood ward coun­cil­lor also said it failed to ad­dress ‘‘grow­ing in­equity’’ in Christchurch and Can­ter­bury.

‘‘It re­ally seems still that this is very much fo­cused on a lot of old­fash­ioned think­ing about hav­ing big su­per an­chor projects,’’ he said.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Tom Hooper said ChristchurchNZ was com­mit­ted to up­dat­ing the strat­egy again and specif­i­cally in re­la­tion to wa­ter.

It would be up­dat­ing the strat­egy in about a year.

‘‘The strat­egy specif­i­cally con­sid­ers the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment for the re­gion,’’ he said.

An­other project un­der the strat­egy was the Can­ter­bury Wa­ter Man­age­ment Strat­egy to man­age the re­gion’s wa­ter for ‘‘eco­nomic, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit’’.

Deputy Mayor An­drew Turner was ‘‘com­fort­able’’ with the strat­egy.

‘‘I know there was some com­men­tary around wa­ter and ir­ri­ga­tion and so on in the meet­ing, but at the end of the day a ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors ap­proved the doc­u­ment, coun­cil is com­fort­able with that doc­u­ment and we look for­ward to the re­fresh that ChristchurchNZ are go­ing to do,’’ he said.

Coun­cil­lor Jamie Gough said he was also happy with the plan.

‘‘No one would ever sug­gest [that] Yani’s heart isn’t nec­es­sar­ily in the right place, but if you want to sit around [and] try and re­fine some­thing . . . so you reach per­fec­tion you’ll be pretty sorely dis­ap­pointed, be­cause per­fect doesn’t ex­ist.’’


Par­ish­ioners sing a hymn as part of a cel­e­bra­tory first ser­vice in Ka­iapoi’s re­paired St Bartholomew’s Church.

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