No support for Christchurch rebuild bill from Opposition

19052015 News Photo Kirk Hargreaves/FairfaxNZ 
Christchurch Rebuild in full progress. Cranes clustered together.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

19052015 News Photo Kirk Hargreaves/FairfaxNZ Christchurch Rebuild in full progress. Cranes clustered together.

Opposition parties are withdrawing their support for legislation that sets up a partnership between Government and council, replacing the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

Meanwhile, the Christchurch City Council wants the bill to be amended to give the Government less power during the next five years of the recovery. 

The Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill has been through select committee with recommended minor changes, and could come up for its second reading next week.

The bill had support from Labour and the Greens in its first reading.

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But those parties now believe the new changes would slow the city's recovery and lead to more bureaucracy and complication by keeping decision-making in the hands of Government.

Green Party Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage said the submissions at select committee called for "local leadership" which the bill does not provide.

The Bill should be "empowering" Regenerate Christchurch, local councils and the community, Sage said. 

"By keeping key decision-making powers in the hands of Minister and Government agencies, the Bill is a lost opportunity to have a genuine partnership between central Government and the people of Christchurch.

"It perpetuates the central command and control thinking of the Cera era."

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The new organisation should have the primary responsibility for making decisions on whether regeneration plans should proceed, the Greens say.

A line was being drawn in the sand by voting against this legislation, Labour's Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods said.

She called the proposed changes "a messy, bureaucratic system" where local organisations would have to submit regeneration plans for the Earthquake Recovery Minister to approve.

"The local leadership at Regenerate Christchurch, led by Andre Lovatt who has a stellar track record of making things happen at the Arts Centre, is best placed to get things moving faster," she said.

The council wanted to see the bill amended to give Regenerate Christchurch "a clear mandate to guide long-term regeneration" of the city as a whole.

"The risk is that provisions of the Bill, when read together, have the effect of bestowing on Regenerate Christchurch at best a tentative mandate, and retaining an uncertain role for the Christchurch City Council," the council's supplementary submission on the Bill said. 

In its current form the organisation would oversee the central city, residential red zones and the coastal suburb of New Brighton, which has been identified as an area desperate of development. However, the council wanted to be able to develop Regeneration Plans for parts of the whole city.

The Selwyn and Waimakariri district councils, Environment Canterbury and Government ministers should not be able to propose regeneration plans, the submission said. 

TRANSITION RECOVERY PLAN

The Transition Recovery Plan released by Brownlee last year detailed the arrangements that would be put in place when the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority ends in April.

It provided for:

- A new joint Crown-council entity called Regenerate Christchurch to oversee the long-term development of the central city, Christchurch's residential red zone, and New Brighton. Regenerate Christchurch will have an independent board and after five years become a council-controlled organisation fully owned and funded by the council.

- A new Crown company, named Otakaro Limited, to oversee the anchor projects and be responsible for the future divestment of Crown-owned land. That company will sit apart from Regenerate Christchurch and the council's Development Christchurch Ltd.

- A new leadership forum that will meet at least once a year to allow Christchurch's mayor and councillors to discuss issues with relevant Government ministers. 

- The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to take over monitoring progress in Christchurch.

- New legislation to replace the 2011 Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act.

 - Stuff

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