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Christchurch Mayors Debate: Business Expectations for the Next Council

Leanne Watson, CEO of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of


Local government affects every business and every citizen in our city. Faced with hundreds of hoardings on every street corner, sometimes seemingly pointless policies, and constant commentary in the media, it’s easy to switch off.

It is important not to forget the fact that anyone elected to the Christchurch City Council, or New Zealand City Council, has access to all sorts of levers and mechanisms to make life a little better for both residents and businesses. In some cases, pull the handbrake to make it harder.

For businesses, local governments play a key role in both promoting and inhibiting economic growth. It is important not only for incoming candidates to understand the company’s needs, but for the company to understand the candidate’s position on the issue. it’s important to us.

Two candidates for Christchurch's top job will be broadcast live tonight at 5:30pm on the NZ Herald.Photo / Courtesy
Two candidates for Christchurch’s top job will be broadcast live tonight at 5:30pm on the NZ Herald.Photo / Courtesy

The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, together with local businesses, has produced a document outlining local government business expectations, setting a blueprint for the next three years and providing the necessary guidance for Christchurch City Council to address its most significant barriers. clarified things. And we need to focus on the issues that need to be addressed in the coming period to ensure a prosperous and future-oriented city.

The local government’s last tenure was dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, with restrictions easing, borders reopening and tourism resuming, we are in a very different position with very different challenges than those navigated in the past. The business community is reignited and gearing up to make up for the significant impact Covid-19 has had. Local governments must work with us to ensure that we maximize the opportunities we currently have.

First and foremost, Christchurch City Council is committed to enabling businesses to thrive, reducing bureaucracy, constraining the labor market, expanding tourism back-up and ensuring that the infrastructure is fit for purpose and future proof.

Labor market constraints remain the biggest challenge facing businesses, and those who believe that local governments have no role to play in mitigating these challenges need to think again. Our cities must fill vacancies and ensure they remain attractive and competitive destinations for domestic and international migrants visiting our cities and regions. A program of major events needs to be maintained to increase public interest and to ensure the city is modern and vibrant. We visit people and they need to stay.

Our expectations document explores how this can be achieved, but at the top of the list is the need to relocate our cities and strengthen our differences. Those who choose to live in Christchurch experience an unparalleled quality of life that cannot be replicated in any other major New Zealand city.

There is also a need to raise awareness of the world’s leading innovation-based industry, which is based in New Zealand’s second largest city. We want to grow and we want more people here. As we compete for talent at an international level, it is more important than ever to actively shape the perception of our city by others in New Zealand and abroad.

It is also equally important to ensure that core services operate to first world standards and infrastructure is adequate when visitors arrive in the city for short trips or permanent purposes. From basics such as keeping streets tidy and taking adequate measures to discourage vagrants and anti-social behavior, to ensuring consistent integration plans are in place to support future growth.

As the beating heart of the region, representing a population of 400,000 and 43,000 businesses, the decisions and actions of Christchurch City Council have profound implications for those both within and beyond the city limits. increase. Investing in projects imposed by Christchurch City Council can be costly, time consuming and in some cases discourage investment altogether.

Building and resource consents also need to be significantly sped up if we want to go anywhere anytime, and we hope to see more accountability and transparency in this area. risk avoidance.

The business community has an overwhelming desire to elect people who support and champion our common interests. One of these interests is having a clear purpose and a clear vision of what we want to be known as Christchurch: our identity. A blueprint for the future of the city that we can all aspire to and work from above to see that we are a world-class city with the assets and environment to deliver a superior quality of life. Don’t be afraid to shout and aspire – a great place to do business. The status quo no longer cuts it.

As businesses have tackled this challenge and adapted the way they operate over the past few years, we expect Christchurch City Council to do the same. We want the Council to be supercharged to serve both residents and businesses in an efficient and transparent manner, resulting in strong economic growth and positive community outcomes. We look forward to your commitment to embedding a culture throughout the Council focused on minimizing waste, maximizing efficiency and enabling business and economic growth.

We also want more collaboration and transparency with companies, and we want business interests to be considered more regularly and proactively. We hope that alternative funding and funding avenues will be taken out, rather than simply ticking a box to indicate that you have been consulted. Raising interest rates is not the only option, and everyone knows it. Especially if you want to invest in the future.

The next three years will be very important. We are teetering on the brink of either taking advantage of the progress that the post-disaster environment has facilitated, or risking becoming a meaningless city at a time when global competitiveness is more important than ever. I’m here.

Municipalities are no longer just about providing core services and rebuilding cities. It’s about relocating our great city and the Canterbury region and preparing it for the future.

Understanding the needs of the business community, having the ability to meet our expectations, and the interdependence of creating a strong economy by providing an enabling environment for business and delivering strong outcomes to the community. We need local governments that understand.

At a fundamental level, we want a council that actively supports business development and innovation and develops a culture of enablement that discourages unnecessary bureaucracy, conservatism and risk aversion. We want a council with bold and courageous leadership, a strong and supportive culture that welcomes new innovations, developments and practices to make it happen.

You can read the full text of local government business expectations here.

We are also proud to join the NZ Herald, who will be providing live coverage of the Mayoral Candidate Forum on Tuesday, September 27th at 5:30pm.