A joint venture between Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council has announced 16 possible adaptation approaches for the city’s areas most at-risk of climate change and flooding.
South Dunedin Future was conceived by the two councils as a response to the risks posed by climate change and the other natural hazards facing South Dunedin.
Options floated ranged from restricting development/redevelopment in areas that may exacerbate risks, managed relocation or abandonment of private or public assists, to drainage and water storage.
Some new approaches highlighted include designing open spaces such as roads and parks to be floodable and diverting water from buildings, ground strengthening, building land up and resilience measures such as lifting or waterproofing houses.
The adaptation approaches were grouped according the “PARA” framework (protect, avoid, retreat, accommodate).
Following council approval, the options would be opened to public consultation, with South Dunedin Future aiming to create an adaptation plan for the area by 2026.
South Dunedin Future’s Programme manager Jonathan Rowe said in the past two years of work, it had become apparent the options weren’t specifically to make the area “flood-proof”.
“We realised, why don’t we use those opportunities to also realise a whole lot of other benefits, co-benefits, and urban regeneration that makes this place not just safe but a better place to live.”
He said there would be opportunities for the community to help narrow down the list to preferred sets for different parts of South Dunedin over the next two years.
“South Dunedin is likely to become more flood-prone and damp over coming decades due to the effects of climate change, rising sea levels and groundwater, and more frequent and severe rainfall events.”
The list of 16 options was created by combining approaches used around the world in similar contexts, along with 280 ideas collected from people in South Dunedin through community engagement throughout 2023.
While the project had not yet been costed due to the wide range of options and a degree of uncertainty, it can be expected several of the options would require a sizable budget.
“Some changes go beyond what a local council or community could afford to do it themselves - this is a national conversation as well,” said Rowe.
“Communities all over the country are going to be grappling with these types of issues. So there is a need to establish some sort of framework and guidance at a national level around who pays for what.”
Rowe said city engagement of the options would be targeted towards those in the affected areas, feedback would be sought from the wider city.
“The whole city is a stakeholder in this.”
Rowe said that all of the options to some degree would involve some form of land use change “at some point”.
“We haven’t decided on any of this - one of the key purposes is to go and have a conversation with the community if we’re getting a green light from the council.”
The reports are set to be discussed next week at the DCC meeting on Tuesday, and the ORC meeting on Wednesday.
Ben Tomsett is a multimedia journalist based in Dunedin. He joined the Herald in 2023, and covers the Otago and Southland regions.