ECan is short for Environment Canterbury. This is a regional organisation which has been responsible for water, clean air, buses, and many other matters which affect our environment. Every three years, we have voted for people to be on the council of ECan. However, last month, the government decided that the ECan council was not doing a good job so the Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, dismissed the council.
He appointed a Commissioner, Dame Margaret Bazley, to be the new chief of ECan. Today six other Commissioners were appointed to work with her. They represent both North and South Canterbury. Today was also the last meeting of the old ECan council.
Many people in Canterbury are angry about ECan being dismissed. They say that these people were voted in a democratic election. Where is democracy if the government can dismiss an elected council? There will be no elections for ECan for another four years.
The Minister, Nick Smith, says that the ECan council did not work together well. Some of the council represented the town while others represented the country and they could not agree. The biggest problem was water. As Canterbury now has so many dairy farms, more and more farmers want water. They use a lot of water to irrigate their farms. ECan has been careful about giving farmers rights to water for irrigation. Canterbury water comes from underground and no one really knows if there is enough water for everyone.