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Our Environment: Issue 23 Winter 2000

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Anatomy of Christchurch

Christchurch’s latest vital statistics reflect the major changes occurring in the City because of population growth, new social patterns and environmental factors.

Christchurch City Update 2000The City’s diverse features are described in the City Council’s fifth monitoring report Christchurch City Update 2000. It presents a detailed picture of Christchurch’s people, environment and economy at the end of the twentieth century. We learn that although about 30,000 extra people will live in Christchurch by 2021, the City’s recent growth spurt will slow progressively over the next two decades. A major trend is the ageing population, which will have a major impact on our health and social services when the first “baby boomers” approach retirement near the end of this decade.

Some other interesting facts:

  • The size of City households has decreased, shrinking from 3.1 people in 1976 to 2.6 in 1996.
  • The once typical family comprising two parents with at least one dependent child fell from 49.4 per cent in 1986 to 42.2 per cent in 1996 while one-parent families increased from 15.3 per cent to 18 per cent.
  • In the workforce, growth of part-time employment is a major trend, accounting for 22.7 per cent of the labour force by 1996.
  • At the same time 73 per cent of all Christchurch residents aged 15 and over indicated they had earned $30,000 or less.
  • The City’s urban area increased by 771 hectares or 5 per cent between 1995 and 1999.
  • Changing lifestyles have made unit and apartment living more attractive. The trend of building large homes on small sections has changed streetscapes.
  • Sixteen months of drier than average weather up to June 1999 had an extensive impact on the regional economy. It also pushed up the rate of groundwater abstraction.
  • The equivalent of almost one month a year is hazardous to people’s health because of suspended particulate matter (smog). 
  • The proportion of households which had two or more cars increased from 37 to 44 per cent between 1986 and 1999.
  • Total waste to the Burwood Landfill has been declining at a rate of 3,200 tonnes per year since 1994.
  • Year-on-year economic growth in Canterbury for September 1999 was 4.2 per cent – the highest annual growth recorded since the mid-1990s.

The report, written by Corinne Macintyre and David Price of the Council’s Environmental Policy and Planning Unit, tells us that most Christchurch residents think our City is a great place to live. Despite this, significant pressures including those caused by increasing population, fluctuating economic conditions, pollution and weather patterns, may adversely affect the environment and quality of life in the City.

Update 2000 is available both in hard copy from the Christchurch City Council and on the Council’s web site at It can also be viewed at a Council library or service centre.

The Council has also produced Christchurch City Fact Pack 2000 providing a snapshot of the City. It aims to answer commonly asked questions about Christchurch and includes information on the City’s history, population, natural and physical environment and aspects of its economy. It can also be accessed on the Council’s web site.

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