Economic blueprint under fire
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.