Environment Canterbury will move to a mixed governance council of seven elected councillors and up to six appointed councillors next year, the Government announced today.
Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston announced announced the move today.
They added that Environment Canterbury (ECan) will then transition to a fully elected council in 2019.
"Environment Canterbury has made huge progress in developing a comprehensive water plan, supporting the earthquake recovery and in rebuilding relationships with the region's then councils," Dr Smith said in Christchurch today.
"This phased approach ensures we maintain the momentum in completing Canterbury's water plan and work on the earthquake recovery, while providing an orderly transition to a fully elected council in 2019.
The mixed governance plan means a majority of ECan councillors would be elected at the local body elections in October next year, with four elected at large in Christchurch, one elected from North Canterbury for the districts of Kaikoura, Hurunui and Waimakariri, one elected from mid-Canterbury for the Selwyn and Ashburton districts, and one from South Canterbury representing the Timaru, Mackenzie, Waimate districts and the parts of Waikati north of the Waitaki River.
The chair and deputy chair of the mixed model council will be elected post-October 2016 by the elected and appointed councillors.
The mixed council will carry out a representation review in 2018 under the standard Local Government Act provisions to determine the make-up and wards of the fully elected council for 2019.
The Cabinet decisions announced today follow informal discussions with the Canterbury Mayoral Forum and Ngai Tahu by Ministers in February, the release of a public discussion document in March, and Ministers meeting all then Canterbury councils during consultation.
A majority of Canterbury's ten councils supported the mixed model subject to the return to a fully elected council in 2019.
"This transitional approach to restoring a fully elected council fits well with the Government's broader programme of progressively restoring Canterbury to normal governance arrangements post-earthquake," Ms Upston said.
Dr Smith added that improved water management remains at the core of the Government's decisions on ECan, with the region having half the nation's water take and a third of the region's hydro-electric generation, and "some of the most challenging issues over nutrient management and water quality".
"The commissioners have made huge progress, taking Canterbury from being a laggard to a leader in setting limits on water takes and nutrients," he said.
"The special powers that enabled commissioners to impose moratoria on water takes and manage water conservation orders are no longer required and will lapse in October 2016.
"The mixed governance council will retain the limited appeals on plan changes until 2019 to enable the rules to be finalised in each of the zones of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan."
The decisions announced today will be included in a bill to be introduced to Parliament.
The bill will be referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee with the public having a further opportunity to make oral and written submissions later this year.