The three districts neighbouring Christchurch – Waimakariri, Selwyn and Ashburton - are all growing, both in terms of their populations and economies. The LTP consultation documents of these three councils provide an interesting snapshot of what’s going on in mid-Canterbury, and are the information sources for the notes that follow.
Waimakariri District Council (north of Christchurch)
Waimakariri has been one of the fastest growing districts in the country over the past 30 years. In just under 30 years, the District’s population has more than doubled from 25,811 in 1986 to approximately 55,000 in 2015.
Growth has accelerated since 2001, with 17,100 new residents, including rapid growth since the 2010 earthquakes.
In the past 20 years most of the growth has occurred in Rangiora, Kaiapoi and Woodend, and in the new town of Pegasus. There has also been considerable rural residential development.
The Council expects the population to grow to about 63,000 by 2025. For the next 30 years residential growth is expected to occur predominantly in the west of Rangiora, in north Woodend, the remainder of Pegasus, and to the north and west of Kaiapoi, with several smaller rural residential developments in the eastern part of the district.
About 45% of people who live in the district work outside the district. One of the major issues facing the district’s commuters is traffic congestion on the Northern Motorway.
The Council plans to build park and ride facilities at strategic locations to enable commuters to safely park their vehicles then catch public transport into Christchurch City.
After the Canterbury Earthquakes
There are between 60 and 80 hectares of Red Zone land that may be available for community use. The Council has allocated $6.76 million over eight years for the restoration of Red Zone areas for future recreational, business or environmental use.
There is also an ongoing, significant programme of works including $20-$25 million for infrastructure repairs and $2.5 million for Kaiapoi River enhancement and wharf repairs.
The probabilities of a significant local earthquake or alpine fault earthquake in the next 30 years have been considered, and the Council will ensure it retains enough borrowing capacity to fund the recovery from such an event.
High rainfall events in June 2013 and June 2014 resulted in widespread flooding in the district.
The Council spent $4 million in response to the June 2014 floods, with a further $16.09 million to be spent on flood mitigation works over the next 10 years.
A three-bin kerbside refuse collection service is proposed, at a standard cost of $335 per household. It includes an organic waste collection service.
The vast majority of the Council’s infrastructure has been laid since 1985, which means that it is not due for replacement until after 2050. The Council’s main focus for the next 30 years is on catering for growth and meeting increasing community expectations regarding the standard of services.
Selwyn District Council (west of Christchurch)
Population and economic growth
Selwyn district is booming. For the past seven years Selwyn has recorded the fastest population increase of any New Zealand territorial authority. The district has also had the strongest economic growth in New Zealand for the past two years.
Selwyn’s population of 50,000 in 2015 is expected to increase to 67,000 by 2025. Since the Canterbury earthquakes, former Christchurch residents have moved to townships close to Christchurch such as Rolleston, Lincoln, Prebbleton and West Melton.
Currently the district has a relatively high proportion of children and a lower proportion of older people compared with the rest of New Zealand, but the proportion of people aged 65 and over is forecast to rise in the future.
Planning for growth
One of the most important elements in Selwyn’s future prosperity will be ensuring that Rolleston, as the district’s largest town, continues to be seen as a desirable place to live, work and play. As part of the Rolleston Town Centre Masterplan, a central shopping area is planned for Rolleston.
Area plans will be developed for Malvern and Ellesmere in 2015, which will look at where shops, businesses and community facilities could be located in future.
The Izone Southern Business Hub is being developed by the Council. It is a 190 hectare industrial park in Rolleston. The primary goal is to provide employment within the district, and a secondary goal is to provide a financial return to the Council.
Rolleston’s industrial area will become increasingly important as both an employment and economic centre for the district, as produce and products from other areas in Selwyn are transported to and from this area.
New rating approach
The Council is proposing to spread costs across the district for providing services, rather than using targeted rates for different areas. The Council considers that Selwyn should be seen as one integrated district rather than a series of detached townships. That means where residents receive a similar level of service for key infrastructure, the cost to residents should also be consistent.
In the case of water and wastewater, this proposal will help keep these services affordable for smaller, rural communities, particularly when changes to legislation require upgrades to a number of smaller water and wastewater supplies.
If improvements are not affordable for rural communities there is a continuing risk that water contamination may occur from time to time, and boil-water notices would need to be issued for some rural schemes.
The Council also proposes to apply this ‘one district’ approach to providing and operating community centres and recreation reserves throughout the whole of Selwyn.
Vehicles now travel over 300 million kilometres a year on Selwyn roads, an 80% increase since 2001.
Commuter traffic is also increasing. Between 2006 and 2013 the number of people commuting to work in Christchurch from Selwyn increased by 44%.
The opening of the Christchurch Southern Motorway extension is likely to change travel patterns across the district. Stage 2 of the Christchurch Southern Motorway will reduce travel times between Selwyn and Christchurch. It is likely to take less than 15 minutes to get from central Christchurch to Rolleston.
Traffic volumes between Rolleston and Christchurch are expected to increase significantly over the next 10 years. About 20,000 vehicles currently travel on this state highway each day, and this is expected to increase to 30,000 vehicles per day by 2030.
Freight volumes are expected to almost double over the next 30 years. This includes road use by heavier vehicles associated with construction and farming activities.
The Council plans to provide a network of safe, off-road cycleways alongside Selwyn’s increasingly busy roads. This will connect the main townships together, particularly in eastern Selwyn.
Ashburton District Council (south of Christchurch)
Growing populationAshburton is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing rural districts, with a population increase of 22% since 2001.
The recent growth has occurred in both urban and rural areas and is considered to have been driven primarily by strong growth in the local rural economy.
Currently the population is 32,800, and this is likely to rise to 35,185 people by 2026.
Economically, Ashburton’s population has done very well over the last few years – with a gross domestic profit (GDP) of $1,640 million in the year to March 2013, up 4.2% on the previous year. New Zealand’s GDP increased by 2.6% over the same period.
With the rebuild of Christchurch speeding up, Ashburton may see a reduction in the number of overnight guests as more visitor accommodation is built in Christchurch.
Ashburton district is predominantly agricultural with an economy dependent on irrigation for increasing on-farm productivity.
Increasing regulation such as ECan’s proposed Land and Water Regional Plan (L&RWP) has introduced constraints on water availability and limitations on nutrient discharges.
There is a need to reduce stock water sourced from the Ashburton River system by 2023.
Council has provided a stock water service for over 150 years, through a 2,583km long open race network. Council is presently considering options, costs and implications for potentially closing the stock water race schemes in favour of alternative water supplies. Council is in discussions with irrigation providers to service some of the current users of the stock water race through piped irrigation on a user pays basis.
Change to a wheelie bin service for recycling
In 2014, Council surveyed residents on their preferences regarding rubbish and recycling collection options. More than 2000 people responded, with 83% indicating they would prefer a wheelie bin service. This will be provided throughout the district, paid for by a $216 rating charge per property.
There is significant pressure on roads, as a result of land use changes and the subsequent increase in heavy traffic. The Council will continue to prioritise works on the district’s major roads, while accepting some smaller, less well used roads will decline in quality.
Treated Ashburton wastewater is irrigated on to a constructed wetland called Ocean Farm, which then produces grass for sale. The wetland is also increasing the biodiversity of the area.