Councillor questions GDC’s commitment.
Climate change should be the “lens over everything” when making plans for Tairawhiti over the next decade, a Gisborne councillor says.
Cr Tony Robinson called out Gisborne District Council for a draft document summarising “key messages” for community consultation on the 2021-31 Long Term Plan.
The document came before the full council at a meeting last week.
“The thing that screamed for me when reading the key themes was actually the absence of anything addressing climate change,” Cr Robinson said.
Eight “themes and outcomes” are at the front of the paper which include the council’s commitment to completing the wastewater treatment plant, improving water quality, accelerating the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme, continuing maintenance of roads, four waters, reserves and building a pool.
Of the themes “a” to “h”, climate change is mentioned at “g”.
“Focus on our building blocks such as regional plans, climate change, the environment and working with our partners — tangata whenua and our communities — to deliver to get to where we need to be for the future,” the paper says.
Later on, climate change is addressed specifically by the report, which says draft estimates of about $60,000 to $120,000 per annum have been allocated to response planning.
“The budget assigned for drafting climate change response planning is less than 0.01 percent of our budget,” Cr Robinson said.
The paper says climate change is a “key consideration” of the Long Term Plan and its proposed approach puts them in a “strong position” to respond to central government’s recent declaration of a climate change emergency.
It also lists other projects that will “support” the region’s climate change response such as research and new builds of the wastewater treatment plant, Waipaoa Flood protection and pool redevelopment, along with water supply protection and native tree restoration.
“Furthermore, while climate change response plans are still under development, staff will integrate industry best practice during delivery of all other projects in the draft estimates,” the paper says.
More commitment and extra detail called for
Cr Robinson said this didn’t cut it.
“To be brutally honest, paragraphs 69 to 72 give me little confidence that this council is really committing both financially and from a planning perspective to addressing climate change.
“If that’s the extent of the message we are going to take to our community, we are going to catch it and catch it back frightfully.
“I’m really concerned that ‘A’ to ‘H’ doesn’t address climate change sufficiently and that we don’t seem to say that we are committing enough resources to addressing climate change properly.
“Now we may be but we’re not saying it properly here,” he said.
Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said it was intended to ask for community feedback on climate change through the consultation by providing a “do more” option, she said.
Following the release of the Climate Change Commission’s report at the weekend, Cr Robinson told The Gisborne Herald it should be the “lens over everything”.
“We absolutely need to shift our thoughts on everything.”
“Ticking a box” was not enough, he said.
“This stuff is utterly unacceptable. We will fail. We will fail if we are happy with that.”
Cr Robinson’s input followed Cr Pat Seymour, who also took issue with the paper’s themes.
“I still think we need a bit more definitive information to give to our community,” Cr Seymour said.
She pointed to “look after our environment” as an example.
“That’s frightfully loose. It could mean do a little bit, or do barely anything.
“Can’t we just lift what we are going to do and actually itemise a few things, so the community has some confidence that we actually do intend to look after our environment?”
Ms Thatcher Swann said the “high level” themes were just part of the information that would go out through the consultation documents and they had “prescriptive” requirements to disclose their plans.
Cr Worsnop backed the sentiment of Cr Seymour.
“I hope that we’re able to offer something reasonably summarised as our consultation document will be, but that if somebody wants to know more, they won’t have to necessarily also read a 200-or-400-page document.
“Is there a flyer that sits behind four or five of the major decisions?”
Ms Thatcher Swann said they would look into it.
Earlier in the meeting, Ms Thatcher Swann called on councillors to read their previous Long Term Plan consultation document, reminding them it was “award-winning” and recognised as “best practice”.
“So we do have a winning formula and we want to kind of keep to that,” she said.
Councillors adopted the draft estimates and work programme 2021-31 at the meeting on January 28.
The consultation document for the 2021-31 Long Term Plan will come back before councillors on March 18 before being released to the public.
■ The front page image is an illustration of the concept of global catastrophe and global warming. Elements of the image were supplied by Nasa. It is sourced from Dynamic Graphics.
Illustration of the concept of global catastrophe and global warming. Elements of the image were supplied by Nasa. Source: Dynamic Graphics.
NOT CONVINCED: Cr Tony Robinson said the council may have plans to address climate change over the next decade, but he didn’t believe it was being communicated effectively. Picture by Liam Clayton
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