Three regional council candidates to focus on change

Freshwater ecologist Lan Pham is running for a regional council seat.

Freshwater ecologist Lan Pham is running for a regional council seat.

Three newly-announced candidates for the regional council say they will focus on clean water and environmental regeneration.

The Labour-affiliated People's Choice group has chosen three candidates to stand for Environment Canterbury (ECan) in October's elections.

They are freshwater ecologist Lan Pham, ECan Banks Peninsula zone committee chairman Steve Lowndes and ecologist Dr Cynthia Roberts.

Steve Lowndes is chairman of the Banks Peninsula zone committee.

Steve Lowndes is chairman of the Banks Peninsula zone committee.

October's elections will be the first for the regional council since the Government appointed commissioners in 2010.

Under the new structure, seven elected representatives would join up to six appointed commissioners. Two of the six commissioners would be chosen by iwi Ngai Tahu.

The People's Choice candidates said they would stand on a platform of clean water, better public transport and a return to full democracy in 2019.

Pham – who recently wrote about her concerns for Canterbury's freshwater – said the region had a freshwater crisis and change was needed to protect the resource for future generations.

"We want to be part of a regional council that moves away from the thinking that we need to 'balance' the environment with the economy, toward a model that recognises that our social, economic and cultural life depends on the environment, and it needs to thrive for us to thrive."

She lives in Opawa, but is currently working on Raoul Island in the Kermadecs.

Lowndes is chairman of the Banks Peninsula zone committee and was a Banks Peninsula district councillor before the council amalgamated with Christchurch city.

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He lives on the shore of the polluted Lake Forsyth, and said he wanted to focus on preserving the environment for future generations.

"Our environment is the backbone of our economy and we degrade it at our peril. We must work together to ensure that everything we do enhances biological diversity and ecosystems' health for a resilient and sustainable future for our children and grandchildren."

Roberts was a science advisor at the Department of Conservation and headed the special programmes department at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

She had a particular interest in climate change and said preparing for its impacts was vital.

"We must act now to reverse the declines in water quality, native species habitats and build resilient and sustainable farming practices – our health, wellbeing and our economy depends on it."

Local body elections will be held on October 8.

 - Stuff

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