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Local solutions for local resource management issues is the aim of a new southern committee set up by Environment Canterbury.
The powers which may be delegated to the new committee under the auspices of the Christchurch-based regional council have been described by Environment Canterbury (ECan) chairman Sir Kerry Burke as strengthening relationships with the southern communities of the Canterbury region.
That relationship has become strained in recent years with growing dissatisfaction over the way ECan delivers services to part of the Waitaki district and the Waimate, Mackenzie and Timaru districts.
It has led to a call from southern communities, including Ashburton, for an investigation into breaking away from ECan and forming their own regional council.
ECan's new southern committee, which will represent the Waimate, Mackenzie, Timaru and part of the Waitaki districts, is chaired by South Canterbury councillor Mark Oldfield, with second South Canterbury councillor, Bronwen Murray, as deputy.
Other members are Sir Kerry and Crs Jo Kane and Alec Neill, a former Waitaki MP. Sir Kerry said the new committee was a major step forward for the south.
‘‘It will allow the flexibility within the framework of regional policies and plans for delivering ECan's services in a way that best meets the needs of the south, while retaining the advantages and economies of being part of a larger and well-resourced organisation,'' he said.
The committee agreed that its purpose was to facilitate extending delegated decisionmaking for the methods of service delivery to the southern area while strengthening the involvement of stakeholders in partnerships to achieve community outcomes.
‘‘All endeavours to achieve efficient and cost-effective service delivery for our constituents will be explored,'' Cr Oldfield said.
‘‘Local solutions are needed for local resource management issues,'' he added. Cr Murray was pleased the terms of reference recognised the importance of the south, and hopefully would address many of the issues that had been raised over the years.
The committee will meet once every two months at various venues in the southern area of the Canterbury region, depending on the agenda.
ECan chief executive Dr Bryan Jenkins said the council was already tailoring service delivery to the particular communities in the southern area.
These included work with the Opuha Dam Company irrigators as well as recreational and environmental groups to improve river water quality below the dam, work with the Orari River community and the Waitaki catchment communities.