11 Oct 2016

Mayor, rejigged council refocus on Christchurch CBD

7:31 am on 11 October 2016

One of the first pledges re-elected Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel has made is to increase efforts to get 20,000 people to live in the CBD.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The move is designed to breathe life into an area still defined by vacant lots.

A review of the Christchurch ward system raised the number of councillors from 13 to 16, and two previous councillors were also replaced in the local body elections.

First-time councillor Deon Swiggs, representing the newly-created central city ward, said that six years on from the earthquakes, the time for waiting was over.

Deon Swiggs

Deon Swiggs was elected to Christchurch's new central city ward. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

"As an example, there's the IRD building and nothing is known of what's going on there. Potentially there should be something happening there. It could be turned into residential apartments with shared working space. There are a lot of empty commercial spaces in the city - maybe there's an opportunity there for the council."

Another new councillor, Sara Templeton caused one of the biggest upsets of the election by unseating sitting councillor and one-time mayoral candidate Paul Lonsdale.

Sara Templeton

Newly elected councillor Sara Templeton represents the Heathcote ward. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

She said a lot of energy and effort had gone into supporting the larger developments in the CBD, but focus was also needed elsewhere.

"That's at the expense of our small village centres where the communities come and connect and share.

"They provide local jobs and they support the local sports teams and that's really essential."

Aaron Keown was returning to the council table after being voted out three years ago on the back of widespread dissatisfaction with former council chief executive Tony Marryatt, who he publicly supported.

He was confident the divisions that characterised the council he was previously a part of would not be a factor.

"This council ... seem to get along, we all seem to be on the same page, of course we won't all agree on every single thing."

The new council would be sworn in at the end of next week, and face a busy end of the year as it grapples with the issues of what to do with the old stadium and a fresh look at its cost sharing agreement with the government.

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