Opinion: Adapt to coastal hazard information

Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board member Darrell Latham PHOTO: Martin Hunter

The updated 2017 Coastal Hazards Assessment Report has made climate change and coastal hazards a hot topic of conversation, writes Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board member, Darrell Latham

With the updated assessment report now made public, the focus of debate is how we deal with the risks and how we adapt.

A recent city council newsletter to residents about climate change advised that the city council wants to explore the options together with the community to create the best possible future. To that end they are facilitating a series of coastal hazard drop-in sessions for the community.

I encourage residents and ratepayers to go along and learn about the issues they will need to consider as a community to make Canterbury’s environment, economy and their own coastal lifestyle more resilient to changing coastal pressures.

There is time and there are options. The city council consultation must be genuine. In order for the city council to be understood they must also understand residents’ perspectives.

Affected communities carry the cost, be it flooding, lack of development, building restrictions and insurance implications. It is therefore communities that need to be at the centre of the decision making process in regards to how and when we respond. You are the ratepayer and you have a voice now and a vote at election time.

The focus from here needs to be on adaptation, what scenario we should adapt to and if, when and how we might mitigate risk. Continual building and planning restrictions on residents can make it unattractive to invest in areas, and it does makes it increasingly difficult to live in the community or to insure or sell one’s home.

As a Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board member, from my perspective there needs to be a conversation towards finding suitable sustainable development options rather than a continued reliance on current restrictive policies. There are options available that fit in with the wider goal of a resilient city.

The 2015 Tonkin and Taylor report on coastal hazards was criticised as being scientifically flawed. The city council had the report reviewed and we now have the updated 2017 report. This document should be viewed as a living document, which is open to question and improvement. Ratepayers deserve nothing less than the best science and the best city council processes.

Your mission: Become informed, don’t be a shrinking violet, ask the city council the tough questions and be proactive. Remember – you are the ratepayer and you pay the bills.

•You can check your address to find out if your property is within an area potentially affected by coastal hazards and inundation by clicking on the link – https://www.ccc.govt.nz/environment/land/livingwithwater/coastalhazards/coastal-hazard-zone-property-search/