EUROBODALLA COUNCIL – TIME TO HELP THE COMMUNTY ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE
· Kathryn Maxwell, President, Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA)
· I am presenting this paper on behalf of SHASA.
· We have a climate crisis to deal with. The last few years has seen a significant increase in extreme climate events including stronger storms, more severe droughts, stronger winds, less water runoff into rivers and dams, and longer and more severe heat waves.
· The Eurobodalla is not immune to these impacts. We have seen a significant decline in rainfall in the last three years, hotter and more humid summers, with the sun's rays being much stronger. Over 60% of Eurobodalla's residents are over 60 compared to 27% for the rest of regional NSW. Older people are much less able to cope with temperature extremes and their health is already being adversely impacted by the changing climate.
· We are told by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and the majority of Councillors that the Council does not need to declare a climate emergency because they are already taking climate action. However, their actions are pretty much restricted to reducing emissions for the Council. Very little is being done to help the community reduce emissions or adapt to the rapidly changing climate.
· Last year the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance prepared a budget submission to the Councillors where we asked for a number of climate adaptation measures. These were ignored by the majority of Councillors. Only Patrick McGuinlay and Anthony Mayne responded positively to the submission.
· The Council needs to urgently prioritise funding for the following:
◦ shade trees on all streets in the town centres and areas of high pedestrian traffic
◦ awnings on all shops to provide protections from the weather, particularly the heat
◦ 24 hour public access cool venues in each town centre for people to escape the heat waves. These would include kitchen facilities, tables, seating, reverse cycle air conditioning, solar with batteries that work when the power goes down. An example of a building that would be able to perform these functions with an upgrade is the Moruya Parish Red Door Hall.
◦ Swimming pools kept open to 10pm on high temperature days to provide an opportunity to cool off and escape the late afternoon heat.
◦ Building shelters which cover car parking spaces and fitting them with solar panels. Byron Shire installed these at Mullumbimby, and a number of Council's in QLD have also installed them. These car parks are dark bitumen colour and as a result are heat sinks. Moruya would be transformed if the Council covered its car parks in building shelters.
◦ Bus shelters that actually protect people from the weather. It is often low income, children and the elderly waiting at bus stops for public transport.
◦ Many more water fountains so that people can easily stay hydrated. The one at Riverside Park is great but we need many more.
· As well as the various infrastructure implementation Council needs to also work on social infrastructure and education. Such as:
◦ Develop a comprehensive strategy to engage the Eurobodalla community on climate change matters and to provide integrated information, advice and support on reducing energy bills and cutting emissions."
· These measures would not only make the Eurobodalla safer for its residents but also for our tourists, the majority who visit during the summer months – December and January.
· Lastly, SHASA and the rest of the community would like to know why the release of the Council's Adaptation Plan has been delayed indefinitely.
Such a plan would show tha the Council is serious about looking after its community.