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Dunedin City Council appears set to signal it will call on the Government for help when it comes to big questions about climate change and the future of South Dunedin.
Roles and responsibilities need to be clear for parties that range from government to asset owners and insurers, as challenges mount, a draft council submission to the Ministry of Environment states.
Among concerns is the potential for climate change to exacerbate inequalities, as vulnerable parts of the city are also where much of its most affordable and accessible housing is located.
Local government has significant resourcing pressures in responding to climate challenges, it is argued in the draft submission.
Dunedin is presented as being "particularly aware of the consequences of inaction on climate change adaptation" and South Dunedin is identified as a challenging area of national significance.
Sea-level rise and increasing frequency of storms are expected to place further pressure on the area, and others such as harbourside, in the years ahead.
The ministry is leading development of a national adaptation plan and city councillors will discuss the council’s planned submission next week.
South Dunedin is home to about 12,000 residents, it hosts essential transport infrastructure and is a destination retail area.
The city council has been working with the Otago Regional Council to shore up the resilience of the area.
Clarification about how the national plan would work at the local level, and how central government would work with local government, would be welcome, the city council comments in its draft submission.
It would welcome central government playing "an active role in partnering with local government" to help manage risk in South Dunedin.
The draft national plan includes a focus on "managed retreat".
It includes the idea of strategically relocating assets away from at-risk areas or reducing exposure to "intolerable risk".
The city council looks set to seek a clear definition of intolerable risk.
Further consultation about managed retreat is expected later this year.
"South Dunedin is central, flat, and conveniently located, and home to many businesses, schools and popular amenities such as the St Clair and St Kilda beaches," the submission says.
"South Dunedin, along with other low-lying areas of the city such as Harbourside, is exposed to a range of natural hazards.
"Climate change is expected to increase the intensity, frequency, impact and consequently the risk presented by many of these hazards."