Council claws back rebuild power

John Key and Gerry Brownlee announce a new plan for Canterbury's rebuild on Thursday.

John Key and Gerry Brownlee announce a new plan for Canterbury's rebuild on Thursday.

The city council clawed back some power from the Government just days before a new plan for Canterbury's earthquake rebuild was released.

A cabinet paper outlining details of the draft recovery plan* was shown to the Christchurch City Council before the final plan was released this week.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the council was concerned at the central-local government power split it outlined and asked for changes.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel

"A number of us felt that it was pointing to a direction that really ought to be developed jointly between the council and the Crown, and after further consideration ... the Crown agreed."

Following the discussion, cabinet recommended a more collaborative approach between Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Dalziel.

The cabinet paper defined the parameters of Regenerate Christchurch, a new entity that would help take over the management of the rebuild from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), Dalziel said.

It did not include the council's new development authority, Development Christchurch, which would have been "a mistake", she said.

The minutes of a cabinet decision from June 29, released publicly on Friday, outlined new recommendations following discussions with the council.

It invited Brownlee to work with Dalziel in establishing Regenerate Christchurch and to look at a possible integration with Development Christchurch.

"We were able to actually feed in what we were doing and that opened up the conversation for a far more joined up approach and I think that's good for Christchurch," Dalziel said.

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Brownlee did not answer questions about the discussions between council and the Government.

Prime Minister John Key announced the proposed transition plan on Thursday. It is now open to public submissions until the end of the month.

A new law would be introduced later this year to replace the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, which expires in April 2016.

Called the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill, the legislation would run for another five years from April, and would formalise the transition of Cera's functions to other government agencies, local councils and Ngai Tahu.

Dalziel hoped the council would take control of some parts of the recovery in less than five years.

"I'm actually envisaging that with some elements of that, the Crown will exit a lot sooner. Some projects they will simply leave with the council to get on with."

She said Cantabrians wanted to see council and the Government "working hand in hand".

"They don't want to see us taking pot shots at each other. They don't want to see us having arguments and disputes because actually none of us have got the energy any more."

While Regenerate Christchurch would focus on the central city and anchor projects, Dalziel planned to take a "much more global view of our city".

"It's not just abut the CBD. It's about our suburban areas, New Brighton, Sumner, Lyttelton."

She encouraged "as many people as possible" made submissions on the draft transition plan.

The council had not yet formed a view on the plan and would make a formal submission in "a very open process", she said.

Thursday's announcement came after a transition advisory board, chaired by former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, delivered a report to Brownlee on how to make the handover.

The Government would work to pass the new legislation by March, in time for it to take effect in April.

The Draft Transition Recovery Plan could be viewed online at www.cera.govt.nz/transition, and comment could be made through an online form, by emailing info@cera.govt.nz, or through Cera's Facebook page.

Feedback was due by 5pm on July 30. 

* A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that an earlier version of the draft plan, set to take effect in April, was shown to the Christchurch City Council before it was released. The council was shown a cabinet paper outlining details of the draft recovery plan rather than a draft of the plan.

 - Stuff

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