Labour MP Megan Woods is promising to return Canterbury’s regional council, ECan, to a democratically elected council.

It follows a mass day-long occupation of the ECan building by local water activists calling for the restoration of democracy and urgent action to save rivers.

In 2010, the Government sacked ECan councilors and instead installed their own commissioners to run the Regional Council.

“The Government took away democracy from the people of Canterbury and in return gave us more big irrigation schemes, more cows, and more polluted rivers,” says Gen Toop from Greenpeace.

At least a hundred protestors crowded inside the foyer to voice their concerns about ECan’s role in dairy intensification in the region.

During the occupation, MP Megan Woods tweeted that Labour’s policy is full restoration of democracy.  

“New constituencies are needed that are fair and give equal weight across the region,” she said.

Green MP Eugenie Sage visited the occupation and also confirmed the Green’s commitment to restore democracy to Canterbury.

Today’s protest included farmers, doctors, scientists, and families.

Bryan Clearwater, a dairy farmer from South Canterbury, joined the occupation and spoke to the crowd about better ways of farming.

Local activist, Shane Herdman, said he just wants his nephews to be able to swim in clean rivers like he did when he was a kid.

The activists set up “The People’s Ecan” inside the lobby.

They presented ECan acting chairperson, Steve Lowndes, a list of action points for the council to implement in order to clean up rivers in the region.