Flood protection sought for all, not just a few

Canterbury Federated Farmers presidents are alarmed to hear urban based regional councillors wildly claiming entire towns should be shifted to avoid flood protection costs.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark said councillors need to remember to focus on flood recovery and river management for all ratepayers, not just a few.

David Clark

“Proactive management of our flood protection works is essential for the wellbeing of our communities,” Clark said.

During 2021, most of Canterbury has been challenged by flooding, with Christchurch and Banks Peninsula the most recent areas receiving heavy rain.

During historic flooding in Mid Canterbury in late May, the Ashburton River broke its banks in several places, causing devastating damage to adjacent farmland, which was covered in shingle and tree debris.

Despite an army of volunteers helping with the clean-up and government and ECan assistance, individual farmers face massive bills to return their farms to their previous state.

“The Prime Minister told us when she visited after the worst of the flooding that we need to engage with Environment Canterbury.

“That we have done.

“Now we call on them to engage with us and govern for all residents, not just their own voter base,” Clark said.

Risk of flooding and river breaches are nothing new and since the time of first settlement of Canterbury, residents have sought to contain the rivers while developing villages, towns, cities, lifestyle blocks and farms across what is an historic flood plain.

Federated Farmers’ South Canterbury president Greg Anderson said that as ECan councillors meet to debate the annual plan, it was timely to remind them that one of the key core responsibilities of the regional council is to protect all residents from natural hazards.

“Some things in the annual plan are essential tasks, and some are ‘nice to haves’, so good quality priority setting is needed.”

Federated Farmers’ North Canterbury president Caroline Amyes said that while it was pleasing the council has set up a catchment committee to focus on flood recovery and river management, it was concerning that “some councillors are suggesting we need to move some of our towns and allow the rivers to run free”.

“Now is not the time for such suggestions.

“Now is the time to govern for all residents,” Amyes said.