Our ‘common good’ values

We believe our values reflect ‘the common good’:

  • People and planet’s wellbeing over private profit
  • Honesty, transparency and integrity
  • Evidence-based decision making
  • Intergenerational justice and environmental stewardship

Our ‘common good’ policies

In a nutshell, we stand for decisive action for our kids and grandchildren in order to:

  • Protect our water
  • World-class public transport
  • Restore Canterbury’s environment

Our full policies

Safe, secure drinking water and swimmable rivers

We believe clean healthy water and freshwater ecosystems are our most precious resource and are vital to happy, healthy and thriving Canterbury communities. We will work in partnership with local and central government to uphold drinking water source protection and ensure environmental improvement that is ecologically meaningful.

  • We want swimmable rivers and to reverse the decline in water quality by setting tougher limits (including on nitrates) based on ecosystem and human health and by implementing central government’s more stringent NPS (National Policy Statements) and NES (National Environmental Standards) changes once they come into force.
  • We will ensure that our rules incentivise de-intensification, and best practice farming management, which reduces or eliminates pollution (such as from nitrates and sediment).
  • We will work to protect drinking water supplies for current and future generations by greater enforcement of community drinking water protection zones or creating Water Conservation Orders across our precious drinking water aquifers and putting a halt on further extraction.
  • We will work to retain independence and control over our drinking water networks and continue to ensure well heads are to such a high quality that treatment is not required.
  • We will advocate to central government for a tax on all large extractive water takes (including existing water bottling) that use public resources for private profit, with the revenue used for environmental restoration.

Public transport

Transformative changes to our public transport system that people will want to use. We will work with local councils, NZTA and central government on structural changes to funding and prioritisation. Clear pathways towards conversion to an electric vehicle fleet and introduction of rapid transit, including an urgent investigation of passenger rail. Free bus services within the four Aves.

Bus network review

Bus passenger numbers have been falling since 2014; see this blog for more details. The underlying cause of this is the introduction of the hubs and spokes network beginning in late 2012. We question whether this is a suitable operating concept for Christchurch and are open to a fundamental network overhaul. Things must change; we cannot have declining passenger numbers at the same time as the central city is making a recovery.


We will have to invest significantly more in public transport but it’s not going to come out of rates increases! What we do envisage is to work with elected members at the city council for them to re-prioritise their existing transport spending away from increasing general road capacity (think Northern Arterial) towards public transport priority. Outcome – more reliable bus journeys that attract higher usage and therefore a higher fare take. Which can then be reinvested in more frequent services, which then become even more attractive, attracting even more usage. Success breeds success – this is where we need to be going.

The Queenstown approach to funding public transport is suggested to be adopted in Christchurch. Where commuter on-street parking demand is high and parking is currently free, we propose for the city council to introduce modest hourly charges (and possibly free short-term parking); good for business as parking availability increases. The parking revenue handed to the regional council can at the same time be used for more frequent buses, giving some of the commuters a good alternative mode of travel. Such an approach, introduced in Queenstown in November 2017, tripled their bus use within a couple of months.

By far the highest income tool would be the introduction of a regional fuel tax. If this were to be introduced at the same rate as in Auckland in 2018, this could raise $40m per year. This would enable passenger rail to be reintroduced without delay.

Inner city Shuttle

Free buses for Metrocard holders if you get on and off within the Four Avenues. There’s heaps to this policy as outlined in a separate article, including better coverage, more buses, and it costs only a fraction of the $1.5m that we would spend on re-introducing the Shuttle.

Fare review

We want to see the fare system reviewed. Compared to Wellington and Auckland, our fare system is simplistic. It does not encourage off-peak travel. Group tickets or monthly passes are not available. Event tickets do not exist as a fare category. Auckland Transport introduced free weekend travel for under 16-year-olds in September; Hamilton has had free weekend travel for under 19-year-olds since July. Where are the plans to do this in Christchurch?

Our review will focus on initiatives that increase public transport use. We want to make public transport more attractive without unduly increasing operating costs.

We will support central government’s initiative to make it cheaper for low income households  to use public transport.

Cash fares need to be simple; no fluffing around with cents. We want cash fares rounded to full dollars, speeding up the transaction time.


A person’s first Metrocard must come free of charge. We want to attract new customers; this is Marketing 101. Attract potential customers and let them try out public transport. The 2011 idea by the government-appointed commissioners to introduce this charge was a bad idea; we will reverse this.

Double deckers

Some of our bus routes are reaching capacity during the peaks, for example the Purple and Orange lines. We will soon be forced to do something about it as these core routes see increasing usage, and all available options require additional funding. We propose that the use of double decker buses be investigated; Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton have those already. This is not a straightforward process, but we suggest that it may be the most cost-effective option to increase capacity. Note that the Bus Interchange was built suitable for double deckers.

Governance review

ECan had its Greater Christchurch transport governance last reviewed in 2015. The outcome was a Joint Committee of three territorial authorities (Selwyn, Christchurch, Waimakariri) plus ECan. The high degree of strategic alignment between these agencies that is needed for successful public transport delivery is absent; much of the decision-making is parochial. The other core problem is that transport and land use should be considered at the same time.

We propose to review the governance arrangements with the aim of centralised, joined-up decision making. There are numerous options, and they may range from ECan delegating its transport and land use planning functions to Christchurch City (will that overcome the parochiality problem?), up to the establishment of a unitary authority for Greater Christchurch (i.e. a governance model used in five other NZ regions: Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Gisborne, and Auckland).

Bus priority

It is critical to introduce bus priority measures as they ensure reliable bus travel times. Reliability is the highest-valued component of public transport; without it connections get missed or people arrive too late for appointments / work / school. We will work with city council elected members to speed up the roll-out of bus priority measures.

Passenger rail

We want to see the ECan-led business case of rapid transit fast-tracked to be completed in 2020. This would give access to $100 million of central government funding for passenger rail earmarked for Greater Christchurch.

Northern Arterial

The Northern Arterial, if it opens as originally planned, will flood St Albans with cars. This is totally unacceptable and for that reason, Axel has developed an alternative plan for the St Albans Residents’ Association (SARA). He has presented on this topic frequently, for example to the meeting called by SARA and at Garry Moore’s Tuesday Club. The alternative plan, as favoured by the St Albans community, is described in detail in a blog post.


Building resilience to climate change

We acknowledge climate change as the number one threat to ourselves and future generations. We will work with urgency to ensure our communities are informed, resilient and adaptive when facing the impacts of Climate Change, and are leading by example and with haste in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • We will expand ECan’s Climate Change Unit including the development of an over-arching Climate strategy which shall both; identify risks and put in place processes to deal with climate change and related emergencies such as pests, floods, droughts, fire and storms; and identify ways to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors.
  • We will set up ECan to be regional leaders in climate information and action and ensure all high-level decision making makes climate change the overarching priority.
  • We will advocate to central government to require regional councils to consider and reduce greenhouse gas emissions when considering plans and resource consents.
  • We will develop a Food Resilience Strategy in partnership with councils that identifies and protects Canterbury’s most productive soil from over-intensification, compaction and development.
  • We will move progressively to growing ECan’s electric vehicle fleet and ensure our tender processes for bus fleets prioritise emission reductions.

Improving air quality

We want to ensure the air we breathe is clean for the health of both ourselves and the most vulnerable in our communities by enforcing controls on harmful emissions and industrial activities.

  • We will improve air quality and community health by growing the ‘Healthier Homes Canterbury’ programme that funds the up-front cost of clean heating initiatives such as insulation and heat pumps, which enables everyone access to warm, dry homes.
  • We will ensure robust monitoring, reporting and incentives to reduce harmful emissions and odours.
  • We will strongly advocate for appropriate set-back distances for quarrying and strictly enforce no dust beyond boundaries by using community app technology and the full weight of enforcement.
  • We will advocate to central government for the banning of cruise ships burning high sulphur fuels in our sensitive harbours, in line with international best practice.

Protecting and restoring native habitat, species and landscapes

We know that for us to thrive, our environment must thrive. Biological diversity and ecosystem health are vital to our wellbeing. We intend to address Canterbury’s ecological crisis through the following actions.

  • We undertake to vigorously retain and protect what we have, restore what is lost and arrest further decline.
  • We will work with LINZ, DOC and other councils to protect our iconic braided rivers and their margins from development.
  • We will advocate to central government for the urgent implementation of a Braided River Act and the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Biodiversity that will protect our threatened flora and fauna and fragile ecosystems such as wetlands, drylands and estuaries.
  • We will boost our marine biodiversity function to ensure our treasured marine mammals and creatures are protected.
  • We will strengthen ECan’s biosecurity and educational programmes that enhance citizen’s understanding of healthy ecosystems and how they contribute to our wellbeing.

Boosting compliance and monitoring

We believe in a level playing field for farmers and industry. Those who have implemented sustainable farming and industry practices should be encouraged. Those who are regularly flouting the rules should face consequences.

  • We will audit our present monitoring and compliance systems to ensure they are fair and robust, and that cost-recovery is maximised.
  • We will take firmer and more rapid enforcement action on non-compliance.
  • We will be prepared to implement central government’s RMA changes on resource consent reviews, so they are in line with our improved planning limits.
  • We seek a comprehensive assessment of regional externalities, including the cost of environmental repair and restoration, to inform regional reporting and decision making.
  • We want to reward sustainable farming and business practices that demonstrate exceptional environmental care and facilitate the sharing of this knowledge.
  • We will advocate to central government to increase RMA fines for non-compliance and to establish an environmental legal aid fund that supports and enables community groups in taking legal actions where legislation falls short in protecting community values.

Upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi

We will work towards Māori and Pākehā having a genuine partnership based on the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and ensure Ngai Tahu have a partnership role around the table as local mana whenua.

  • We will continue to work in partnership with Ngāi Tahu to enhance the mauri of our environment and uphold their mana and rights to tino rangatiratanga and their exercise of kaitiakitanga.

Community development and democracy

We believe restoring a fully functioning, open and transparent democracy at Environment Canterbury is fundamental to ensuring Cantabrians’ desires are represented and realised.

  • We will undertake an independent review of ECan (refer to our ‘democracy rebuild’ article for details) to identify areas in which democratic systems and functions have been lost or eroded. We will implement recommendations for how democratic practices and processes can be upheld.
  • We will ensure our people’s voices are heard as part of an open, two-way conversation by establishing ‘People’s assemblies’ to have meaningful and outcome-focused dialogue with our communities.
  • We will review ECan’s Standing Orders to ensure they are fit for purpose to support a robust, open and fair democratic process for all Council and committee meetings.
  • We will ensure that the post-2019 ECan governance structure embodies the Treaty of Waitangi partnership.
  • We will conduct a full review of the Zone Committees purpose, function and operation in working to improve environmental outcomes.