TheStar follow us on facebook.com/riseupchristchurch Thursday July212016 11
10 Thursday July212016 follow us on facebook.com/riseupchristchurch ews Councillors warned not to repeat ‘mistakes of the past’ THERE • By Gabrielle Stuart THE CITY council is defending it’s decision to renegotiate how much it spends on anchor projects, in spite of being warned it is “repeating the mistakes of the past”. Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the current city councillors have often complained their hands are tied over the city council’s finances. This occurred because former mayor Bob Parker’s city council committed them to spend set amounts on major projects through the cost-sharing agreement with Government. However, the current city councillors plan to do the same thing to the next batch of councillors. They are currently in discussions with Government over the agreement, and expect to sign the new version by August, before the October elections. The current agreement includes city council commitments of almost $147 million to the Metro Sports Facility, $60 million to the new Central Library and $253 NEGOTIATION: The city council and Government are currently renegotiating the cost sharing agreement. million toward a new stadium. Ms Dalziel said the discussions were not a significant renegotiation, but they were “tidying the agreement up”. She did not answer questions from TheStar about what the consequences would be if the review was delayed, or whether she would consider delaying it until after the elections. Cr Raf Manji said delaying the discussions would be likely to hold up projects like the Metro Sports Facility. Cr Jamie Gough was part of the former city council which signed the agreement. He said it would be difficult to postpone the renegotiation, because it would take time for the new city councillors to “get their heads around the problems” after they were elected. If there were any major changes proposed to projects, he said he would vote for the renegotiation to be delayed. “If there are significant changes, it would be absurd for council VOTE TO HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE FUTURE OF CHRISTCHURCH. Enrol by 12 August at elections.org.nz to sign that off and I don’t think anyone would want to do that.” Keep Our Assets Canterbury convener Murray Horton said no matter the scale of the negotiations, the new city councillors would have to work with the new agreement when putting together budgets each year, so they needed to have a say. “This is a big, major decision which needs to be done properly, because these anchor projects will set the structure of the city for years to come.” Former community board member Rod Cameron, who is running for council this year, said the city councillors were repeating the mistakes of the past. He believed they should wait until the new council was elected, even if it meant projects were delayed. “What’s another six months when we’ve been waiting five and a half, almost six years? It’s worth being able to take that time and assess things. A rushed decision is not always the best one to take.” TheStar Massive rates relief revealed ARE two filing cabinets at city council filled with requests for rates relief due to the earthquakes – amounting to $16 million. After the February 22, 2011 earthquake, property owners were offered rates relief if their properties were left uninhabitable. About 8000 homes were redzoned by the Government after the earthquake. Information released under the Official Information Act showed that the city council had granted more than $16 million in rates remissions as a consequence of the February 22, 2011 earthquake. Due to the sheer number of applications, the city council were not able to definitively find out how many properties had been granted a rates remission. It would take, estimated the city council, two weeks of staff time. But it estimated that it had processed about 8000 requests, of which 90 per cent were approved. The city council said this gave an average of about $2000 per property. “But the amount will vary considerably between different properties,” said the response. AFTER YOU FEEL AN EARTHQUAKE, CHANCES ARE YOU CHECK THE GEONET APP GeoNet helps us all to make our communities safer. We live in the shaky isles and that means we need a high-tech monitoring system to detect and measure geological hazards like earthquakes. Fifteen years ago, the Earthquake Commission collaborated with GNS Science to create the world leading GeoNet system. Today, its skilled team uses a network of more than 600 sensors across New Zealand to detect, analyse and respond to earthquakes, volcanic activity and other geological hazards. The successful partnership between EQC and GNS continues to thrive. EQC currently provides around $12 million a year in funding. In turn, GeoNet data helps EQC to assess the risks from natural hazards, and that helps keep Kiwi household levies affordable at 15c for every $100 worth of cover. GeoNet informs New Zealanders about natural hazards. Its data is vital to many diverse users from power providers and air traffic controllers to forest owners and insurers. The quality and availability of GeoNet data also attracts some of the best brains in the world, giving a boost to local research that would otherwise not be possible. GeoNet is part of EQC’s research and education programme. Find out more www.eqc.govt.nz/research/geonet.