Waimakariri council boss not impressed by late request to help pay for stadium

The Waimakariri District Council boss was not amused with a belated request to contribute to the running costs of Christchurch’s new stadium.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger has formally written to his Waimakariri and Selwyn counterparts and to Environment Canterbury chairperson Peter Scott asking the three councils to ask if they would be willing to contribute to the operating costs of Te Kaha, Christchurch Stadium.

Jeff Millward.
Jeff Millward.
Waimakariri District Council chief executive Jeff Millward said the council would consider the matter in the coming weeks.

But any contribution would be subject to full consultation with ratepayers.

‘‘It has missed our consultation for the Long Term Plan,’’ Mr Millward said.

‘‘From the designs, it looks like a fantastic facility, but we were never consulted and we haven’t been included in coming up with the design features.’’

There had been no consultation with neighbouring councils even though the councils actively participated in the Greater Christchurch Partnership and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum.

The council’s draft 2024/34 Long Term Plan has already been adopted and is due to be released for consultation on Friday, March 15.

No funding has been set aside for Te Kaha and it would need to be considered as part of the 2025/26 annual plan consultation process, Mr Millward said.

It was unclear whether ratepayers would be asked for a fixed charge, or whether it would be based on distance or on capital value.

‘‘We can’t go out to the community until we understand what that looks like,’’ Mr Millward said.

He acknowledged Waimakariri ratepayers contributed to the Canterbury Museum, but that was subject to Government legislation, so any stadium contribution would likely be voluntary.

In the letter, Mr Mauger acknowledged the Christchurch City Council had decided to build the stadium and would fund its construction.

But he stressed the stadium would provide benefits to the wider region.

A 2019 report suggested Te Kaha’s operating costs were likely to exceed its income by $4.2 million a year, which would cost Christchurch ratepayers an average of $144 a year without outside support.

But Mr Millward said Waimakariri ratepayers already paid an average of $100 a year more in rates than Christchurch ratepayers.

He said the Waimakariri District Council had completed its rebuild after the earthquakes and was still paying off its earthquake loan.

Waimakariri has a much smaller ratepayer base than Christchurch and has regional facilities of its own, including MainPower Stadium and MainPower Oval.

‘‘We also need to consider what our rates are in relation to Christchurch’s rates and we would need to put all of these things to our ratepayers to consider,’’ Mr Millward said.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.