|Current Ward Boundaries in Christchurch|
Christchurch City Council is currently reviewing the way we vote for our local councillors and community board members. All councils must review representation across their territory and ensure that it is fair and that every ward has similar sized populations. Every three years, half of the country’s territorial local authorities go through this process. Many reviews are not a big deal, however for Christchurch this year, it is.
Why? Because people have moved since the earthquakes so the existing wards are very uneven and need considerable changes. In addition to this, Banks Peninsula District Council amalgamated with Christchurch City Council in 2005 and were permitted to vary their representation from what the Local Government Electoral Act law stipulates while the new arrangements bedded in. Ten years is adequate bedding-in time, so now the Banks Peninsula communities need to be brought into some kind of alignment with other parts of the City.
Halswell is affected by both the shift in population to this side of the City, and by the need to ensure that Banks Peninsula communities are both in a ward of similar population size to the other wards in the City and in wards that do not feel wrong or “foreign.”
The wards as they stand do not serve Halswell particularly well, given that Halswell arguably has no councillors and no community board members actually living in the area. Both of the Councillors that represent us live in Riccarton and our community board members are mostly Riccarton and Hornby based, with one in Hoon Hay/ Hilmorton (I must add here that I’m NOT casting aspersions on the community board, who are all nice people. I am just commenting that they do not live in our community).
Interestingly, figures indicate that Christchurch has a very low number of councillors per head of population when compared to other cities in New Zealand. In Christchurch, each councillor represents 27,435 people, whereas in Wellington, for example, there are about 14,102 people per councillor and in Dunedin there are 8,823 per councillor. Many feel that we should increase the number of councillors to bring ourselves more into line with other Councils around New Zealand and because of the extra work resulting from the earthquake.
An idea being presented is to have 20 wards around the City and Peninsula with a councillor from each one. This would bring it more into line with representation in other cities and, arguably, spread the load a bit more the Councillors who are currently managing a huge amount between them. There would be one community board for every three wards so the number of community boards would be similar to what we have now.
What do you think? Do you have any thoughts about this? Would you like to know more? The Council have talked to many people about this and are now running workshops to get feedback on their ideas. They are keen to hear what people think.
There will be a workshop about this on Thursday 12th March 2015 in the Harvard Lounge at 31 Corsair Drive in Wigram. You can find out more at http://www.ccc.govt.nz/thecouncil/haveyoursay/representativereview.aspx. If you can’t attend look at the forms on the webpage and provide your views there!