In an invitation only meeting last Thursday night members of the community selected by Council along with others who had lodged Expressions of Interest to attend joined in a Eurobodalla Shire Council workshop that was held as a response to a push by the community for the Council to declare a climate emergency. While Councilor Pat McGinlay's call for Council to recognise a Climate Emergency was defeated he was able to move and secure an action that required Council to meet and engage with community and businesses to establish what Council might do to assist the wider community to best prepare and adapt to 'variable and changing' weather. The workshop provided members of the community with an opportunity to put forward ideas for consideration by the Council. Short presentations were given by Kathryn Maxwell from SHASA, Allan Rees from 350 Eurobodalla, Michelle Hamrosi from Doctors for Climate Action and Annette Kennewell.
Key recommendations for the Eurobodalla Council included:
· Eurobodalla Council should follow the lead of Bega Valley Shire Council and develop a climate resilience strategy in order to provide a coherent plan to co-ordinate its climate change activities.
· The $1m in annual savings from efficiency measures be redirected from general revenue to funding additional measures to reduce emissions and adaptation measures both for Council and the broader community.
· Increased funding for active transport. The current Council investment of $350,000pa in its Pathway Plan is woefully inadequate. We need wider verges for cyclists on major roads including George Bass Drive and the Princes Highway. We also need pedestrian crossings in Mogo and Bodalla.
· Council provide loans for rooftop solar to be paid off on rates bills.
· Council take action to move quickly to electric vehicles. This includes converting their own fleet to electric vehicles and setting up EV charging stations for all to use. The Council also needs to improve public transport through the purchase of an electric bus.
· Council fund a grants programs to support community projects to reduce emissions and adaptation measures. · Council help the community to adapt to a rapidly changing climate by providing more water fountains, shading of car parks, shading of shopfronts, establishing heatwave and bushfire refuges with air conditioners and battery backup, and rebates to insulate houses.
· Prepare a Heatwave Plan which would aim to improve the thermal qualities of houses, improve social housing, enhance mental health awareness, increase street tree planing and improve cycling and walking infrastructure. · Council needs to follow the lead of Bega Valley Shire and introduce a food and garden waste kerbside reycling system to turn this waste into much needed compost for farmers and market gardeners. · Council also needs to provide more incentives for households to install rainwater tanks and more water efficient appliances. Following the meeting Council staff advised that they would take the issues raised on board and prepare a report for Councillors on possible outcomes looking at what could be done in the short term and also in the next round of Council's own reduction review.