Tag Archives: 3 June 2015 Flood

Greater South Dunedin : Public Meeting, Monday 12 June 6.30pm

Public Meeting South Dunedin: It’s your future!
Monday 12 June 6.30pm Nations Church. Please come!

It’s almost two years since the devastating 2015 floods which hit the suburbs of Greater South Dunedin, affecting more than a thousand homes, businesses, community organisations and schools.

It is timely to hold another public meeting in order to give you a voice and to provide an opportunity for some information sharing and discussion about the priorities for our community.
We hope you will attend.

Ray Macleod, Chair
The Greater South Dunedin Action Group

Background Information:

There’s been a lot of talk about the future of Greater South Dunedin.

Some of that talk has been muddled by poor quality information collected and published around the extent and causes of the flooding on our community. Eventually the Dunedin City Council acknowledged that its lack of maintenance of the mud tanks and its lack of oversight of the performance of the Portobello Pumping Station contributed 200mm to the flooding that occurred.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, warned earlier in 2016 that South Dunedin presented the “most troubling example” of high groundwater in the country.

The DCC and the Otago Regional Council have produced reports on the flooding and the issues facing Greater South Dunedin due to rising groundwater and the impact of climate change. Their reports are largely based on predictions and modelling assumptions.

There have been reports by GNS Science and the University of Otago’s School of Surveying of potential subsidence in South Dunedin and other parts of the city. At the time, GNS cautioned against reading too much into the subsidence data, as more work was required.

The DCC has finally announced a temporary community hub will open at Cargill Enterprises on Hillside Road mid-year.
After much public outcry, the South Dunedin Work and Income and Police station re-opened their doors.

The DCC formed a stakeholder group of organisations and government agencies, some of whom have a presence in South Dunedin, which meets every month or so.

Heavy rainfall over Easter demonstrated that the City’s civil defence preparedness and response has improved, although local people are yet to be fully informed about how they can be better prepared and understand how a civil defence emergency may affect them.

The DCC’s Second Generation Plan has held hearings into the Hazard 3 (Coastal) Overlay which covers the area bounded by Forbury Rd to the west, Victoria Road to the south, the Caversham bypass motorway to the North and Portsmouth drive to the east. This includes a provision to require new residential dwellings to be “relocatable”.

The DCC also recently announced new “minimum floor” levels for new buildings in South Dunedin of 500 mm for those not affected by the 2015 floods and 400mm above the floodwaters for those affected by the 2015 floods. This will result in some new houses having to be a metre above ground level in order to get a building consent. GIVEN THE DCC CONTRIBUTED 200MM TO THE 2015 FLOOD LEVEL THIS RAISES A QUESTION REGARDING THE NEED FOR ANY MINIMUM FLOOR LEVEL REQUIREMENT OR A CASE BY CASE EVALUATION AS THE NEED ARISES.

If you live or work in the Greater South Dunedin area, all of these proposed changes and approaches affect you. Put together they provide a confusing picture of an important community which is receiving mixed messages about its future and doesn’t yet feel it has a strong voice and a plan.

In all of the discussions about the future of Greater South Dunedin, the people who call these suburbs (of South Dunedin, St Kilda, St Clair, Forbury, Caversham, Caledonian, Portsmouth Drive, parts of Musselburgh and Tainui) home or work are not yet part of the discussions.

You may have attended a public meeting after the floods which resulted in the formation of the Greater South Dunedin Action Group. We consider you to be an important part of this group as it aims to:

• Facilitating effective communication between the community and the city and regional councils
• Advocating, representing and promoting the present and future interests of the community
• Ensuring the area is well serviced by Council in terms of social and infrastructure services as a foundation for a vibrant community
• Exploring the opportunities for the area including inner city redevelopment, renewal, and support for new job opportunities & enterprise
• Developing a sustainable plan for the future of the Greater South Dunedin area and its community

[ends]

****

Greater South Dunedin Action Group

Public Meeting
6:30pm Monday 12 June 2017
Nations Church
334 King Edward Street South Dunedin

Agenda
Meeting Chair: Hon Stan Rodger

1. Welcome: Hon Stan Rodger

2. Apologies

3. Dunedin City Council & Otago Regional Council on what has been achieved over the past two years. Response to questions submitted to DCC copies are which will be circulated to the meeting. (15 Minutes)

4. Dr Simon Cox: A geoscientist’s perspective on the problem at hand.
(15 minutes)

5. Mr Geoff Thomas: Property Council of NZ. Impact on property values.
(10 minutes)

6. Questions from the floor (if wishing to ask questions please try to write these down and direct them through the Hon Stan Rodger).

7. Proposed resolutions:
a) That the meeting provide a mandate to the Greater South Dunedin Action Group to act as an advocate for the community interests.
b) That the DCC are requested to provide an initial engineering plan and response by 1 December 2017 with the intention of providing protection and support to people, homes and businesses in the Greater South Dunedin area.
c) The DCC be requested to commence the establishment of a community board to represent the interests of the Greater South Dunedin Community.

8. Any other business.

9. A wrap up and thank you from the Chair of the Greater South Dunedin Action Group. (5 minutes)

10. Final words from the Hon Stan Rodger.

█ Download: SDAG Public Meeting Agenda (DOCX, 25 KB)

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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Filed under Business, Climate change, Construction, DCC, Democracy, Design, District Plan, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Finance, Geography, Health & Safety, Housing, Infrastructure, New Zealand, People, Politics, Property, Proposed 2GP, Public interest, Resource management, South Dunedin, Structural engineering, Technology, Tourism, Town planning, Urban design

TOMMYROT from ‘academic’ local authorities…. #SouthDunedin it’s PUNCH BACK TIME

At Facebook:

More in tomorrow’s newspaper.

****

Chairman of the Otago chapter of the Property Council New Zealand Geoff Thomas says policymakers need to be careful not to damage property development opportunities in South Dunedin.

### ODT Online Wed, 10 May 2017
Policy could hold back South Dunedin
By Margot Taylor
Residential property development in South Dunedin could be “squashed” by the Dunedin City Council’s overly cautious natural hazards policies, the Otago branch president of the Property Council New Zealand warns.
Geoff Thomas said a proposal under the proposed second generation Dunedin city district plan (2GP), to require all residential properties in the area to be movable, could stymie the replacement of housing stock. The proposed policy ignored costs associated with residential development, including land, compliance costs and construction materials. “Making residential housing relocatable doesn’t make sense. I, personally, have sold a 1980s house with aluminium joinery for $1 to be moved.” If approved, the proposal would result in either more substandard houses, or houses that would be “very expensive” to build, he said. The natural hazards policies did not adequately consider current and potential technologies to manage sea-level rise and floods. “I think South Dunedin is full of opportunity. A lot of the housing stock is from a day gone by. It is an opportunity to do something with the area and our concern is we don’t want to end up with a caravan park out there.” Water drainage was a clear issue. A more reasonable approach to protect the economic viability of the area could be taken to address it.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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DCC leases space for South Dunedin community hub at Cargill Enterprises

How many years has this taken DCC
It’s still only “temporary” accommodation….

South Dunedin has been waiting for a public library since the time of borough amalgamation.

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Home found for South Dunedin pop up hub

This item was published on 02 May 2017

A home has been found for the South Dunedin pop up community hub. The Dunedin City Council this week signed a two year lease to set up a temporary hub in part of the Cargill Enterprises premises at 199 Hillside Road.

[screenshot – click to enlarge]
DCC Webmap – 199 Hillside Rd, South Dunedin JanFeb 2013

Group Manager Arts and Culture Bernie Hawke says, “We are delighted to have a confirmed location for the pop up hub. This is a well known, central location and we look forward to providing a range of services on site for local residents.”

The DCC is leasing about 200sq m, which includes space for community activities, meeting areas, DCC service centre and library activities, and kitchen and toilet facilities. The hub will also provide access to Gig wifi for the South Dunedin community. It is hoped the pop up hub will be open about mid year. As well as providing access to DCC services, the hub will provide an opportunity for the community to have input into the development of the permanent South Dunedin Community Hub. While the opening hours for the pop up hub are still to be confirmed, the hub is expected to be open about 25 hours a week, across five days and including one evening and Saturday morning.

Cargill Enterprises Chief Executive Geoff Kemp says, “Cargills are thrilled to be in a position to accommodate the city’s South D interim hub initiative. “A community centre and library adjoining the main facility will give our 94 staff easy access to the many services planned, particularly the opportunity to explore a wide range of reading material and multimedia. We view the hub as complementing our employer-led numeracy and literacy training programme. Very exciting!”

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull comments, “The establishment of the pop up hub shows the Council’s commitment to South Dunedin and is a key part of a much wider engagement with the South Dunedin community and agencies working in the area.”

DCC Chief Executive Officer Dr Sue Bidrose says, “When the pop up hub has been established, we will turn our attention to the location and development of the permanent hub. The signing of a lease for the pop up hub is an important step in this process. In addition to the pop up hub development, our Community Development team has been working alongside groups within South Dunedin to look at the social and economic needs and strengths of this community. As part of this, on 18 May we are organising a number of local community-based groups and individuals to meet to see if a collective action plan to support improved social and economic wellbeing can be created within the South Dunedin area.”

Contact DCC on 03 477 4000.
DCC Link

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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Cracking the truth : June 2015 South Dunedin flood

OPINION received from Neil Johnstone
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 at 12:42 a.m.

Richard Stedman produces (below) a succinct review of the causes of, and failures after, the South Dunedin flood of June 2015. His frustrations appear to match those of Hilary Calvert that were published a few hours earlier. My reviews previously published on What if? Dunedin commencing back around February give more detail.

For your readers’ further consideration, Richard has highlighted the ‘200mm increase’ in flood level as a result of Portobello Road pumping station failures. The figure was derived by me, and appears in my review of the first DCC flood report. To my knowledge the only clear comparable DCC concessions have come from chief executive Sue Bidrose who admitted the figure publicly at the 20 June 2016 (yes, 2016) South Dunedin Action Group-organised public meeting, and subsequently.

The first DCC flood report (30 Nov 2015) is adamant that high groundwater was the cause of the flooding, and enough Councillors bought right into that excuse at the following Infrastructure Services Committee meeting. Just go back and view the video, if you’ve forgotten.

Dunedin City Council Published on Dec 7, 2015
Dunedin City Council – Council Meeting – November 30 2015
Discussion of the report starts at 1:09:52

The second (mudtank) DCC report of 26 April this year states: “Although Portobello Road’s performance did explain some of the length of time flooding was evident, much of the flooded area was below road level…” (para 31). No mention of increased depth of flooding there either, you will note.
[View report at Infrastructure Services Committee: Agenda & Reports 26 April (Part A, Item 5) pp 6-27.]

Neither DCC report mentions the additional depth of flooding caused by inaction at the Musselburgh pumping station.

History and ongoing design may rely on written commentaries. For the wellbeing of South Dunedin people, we must therefore continue to counter the misinformation contained in DCC reports, and in the more recent ORC (DCC-backed) South Dunedin “hazards” report. Even if ODT has switched off.

Related Posts at What if? Dunedin
8.3.16 [Review 1] Johnstone independent review of DCC report
19.5.16 [Review 2] Johnstone review of 2nd DCC report

Correspondence supplied
7.3.16 Letter, Chief Executive Sue Bidrose to Neil Johnstone
10.3.16 Response from Neil Johnstone to CE Bidrose

sue-bidrose-south-dunedin-a-changing-environment-radionz-co-nz-detailSue Bidrose at ORC/DCC hazards presentation [radionz.co.nz]

****

OPINION received from Richard Stedman
Fri, 9 Sept 2016 at 8:24 p.m.

The ODT editorial department is peopled by closed minds, a number of whom subscribe to the climate change/rising sea level mantra and therefore manipulate their content to support their distorted view of the world. Mr Morris is captured by the former/present regime at city hall, a fate which befalls every reporter assigned to that round once they get their feet under the table.

Two weeks ago I prepared an opinion piece re the election and South Dunedin, outlining some of the issues as I see them in the hope that it might be published. I thought it was honestly held opinion, but it was rejected because it added “nothing new” to the debate, yet they run to Cull at every turn and run column after column of repetitive nonsense.

The following is my submission submitted on 24/8 and rejected the same day in this message: “Thanks for this submission, but we have had a “deluge” of flood letters and op eds from all sides so I don’t feel the need to highlight the issue again at the moment – certainly if there’s not anything new in it, as such”.

I have seen little evidence of the cited “deluge”.

The South Dunedin flood of June 2015 may be a tipping point during next month’s local body election. Many voters will look at the burgeoning candidates list for the Dunedin City Council and ask “who will provide the cornerstone elements of responsibility, accountability and integrity?”

Residents and business owners in South Dunedin have been sorely tested in recent times through the failure of the DCC to maintain its infrastructure. Among those adversely affected were elderly residents at Radius Fulton Home, including a number of dementia patients, the most vulnerable in our community, who were subjected to floodwaters containing sewage and transferred from the safety of their home in a crisis beyond acceptance. Some were accommodated as far away as Balclutha and Oamaru and three months passed before the facility was re-opened.

Following the flood, obfuscation clouded the failures that led to the inundation of homes and businesses and the investigation and report into the affair was 12 months in gestation. Officials and councillors, captured by the twin mantras of climate change and rising sea level, avoided any suggestion of culpability to limit the likelihood of litigation, and offered no solace that might have been construed as admission of liability.

The mayor and others were quick to blame rising sea level causing increased groundwater, combined with an “extreme weather event”, the result of climate change, and went so far as suggesting that a planned retreat from South Dunedin may be necessary in the future. The rainfall was described as a one-in-100-year event then gradually downgraded, but none of these pretexts are realistic. Questions arise over who is responsible for what, and how serious are the threats of rising sea level, more frequent adverse weather caused by climate change, and the “sinking of South Dunedin”, not to mention “retreat”.

Dunedin and environs have been subjected to much larger weather events in the past. Flooding of the entire city is well recorded and in particular photographs of the 1923 flood depict rowing in floodwaters in the city as well as inundation in South Dunedin. During a storm in 1898 large tracts of St Clair Esplanade were destroyed by the sea which damaged many houses, leaving some partly suspended. More recently, the storms of 1968 were greater than last year’s, delivering 10% more rainfall. In 1968 there were 90 properties invaded by floodwater, whereas last year some 1200 properties were flooded and many contaminated with effluent. Clearly last year’s event was exceptional only for the damage created and lives disrupted.

At a public meeting in South Dunedin on June 20, more than 12 months after the event, those affected had an opportunity to hear an explanation in the hope that someone might take responsibility for the extent of the damage. Despite a good representation of councillors there was no empathy and no likelihood of accountability. What the meeting heard was a long explanation of how the three-waters system works, or doesn’t work, as the case may be, and of failure at the pumping station from chief executive, Dr Sue Bidrose and other staff. The question is “when did the city’s councillors abdicate?”

south-dunedin-flood-june-2015-radionz-co-nzSouth Dunedin June 2015 [radionz.co.nz]

It can be argued that the damage and distress was the result of neglect, but the DCC says problems at the pumping station added only 200mm to the flooding which would have occurred anyway. Which 200mm was it? Maybe the first 200mm flowed across the ground, reached blocked drains then deepened throughout the area, or perhaps the last 200mm increased the depth and entered homes and business premises carrying undesirable flotsam. Without the extra 200mm would the water have stopped at the thresholds rather than flowing inside?

What of the rising sea level threat? Is it as urgent and as devastating as the commissioner for the environment, some DCC councillors and the Green Party say? The Greens proffer that the Government should help to pay for the reconfiguration of South Dunedin. Why? There has been no disaster on the scale of the Canterbury earthquakes and there is no immediate danger condemning South Dunedin, for if sea level were to rise according to some projections, north Dunedin and other areas are also in jeopardy meaning protection on the coast is futile because the flat land would be inundated from the harbour.

Could it be that models of sea level rise around New Zealand are exaggerated and distorted by the multiplier effect have been grossly over stated? And do the $7 million apartment complex at the Esplanade to be completed next year and the DCC’s belated discussion on a South Dunedin hub indicate mixed messages on the subject?

There is no doubt that the infrastructure must be maintained to the highest level and upgrading implemented with haste. The seafront calls for a level-headed approach to protect the sandhills which shelter the city from the ocean. In the past a network of groynes captured the sand, maintaining a broad beach to dissipate the energy of the waves. The network succeeded for nearly 100 years, but without maintenance fell victim to the ocean, so is it time to reinstate a similar system and then plan carefully for the next 100 to 200 years?

Council says that infrastructure will require “tens of millions of dollars” we cannot afford, but plans to spend some $37 million on George Street and the Octagon, followed by development of the harbourside. These “tens of millions” surely must be re-allocated to South Dunedin for infrastructure, to build a second pumping station, and provide realistic coastal protection.

Dunedin needs new councillors who will make hard decisions, reduce spending on fripperies and attend to basics; people who are prepared to drill deep into reports and costings and who are not afraid to make unpalatable decisions when needed rather than govern with slogans and platitudes.

Declaration: Conrad Stedman is my nephew.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Election Year. This post is offered in the public interest.

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South Dunedin mainstreet Hub : no direct relevance to distant Gasworks

as well as (pre-Election)
DESPICABLE DCC / ORC CLIMATE CHANGE MASSAGE

[click to enlarge]
DCC Webmap - South Dunedin Hub area incl gasworks museum JanFeb2013DCC Webmap – GREAT DISTANCE except by computer or Segway….
South Dunedin | from King Edward St (red) to Gasworks Museum (blue) via Lorne and Braemar Sts (green) – colour overlays by whatifdunedin.

█ DCC doesn’t need Athfield Architects to justify the LONG DURATION need and solution. No disrespect to colleague, the late Ian Athfield —or the current firm (love them heaps).

DCC, DO NOT OVER THINK THIS, FOR CRISSAKES
Give South Dunedin a community facility as was Promised YEARS AGO. Leave the goodie-two-shoes Gasworks Museum lobbyists out of it, or very much to the side. They mean well, but for too long they’ve been praying on the feckless DCC, soaking up Ratepayer dollars with little justification, and they keep wanting more.

COLLECTIVELY, WE HAVE LOCAL SOLUTIONS – WE DON’T NEED TO BE HELD BY THE HAND TO SET UP SOMETHING SO INCREDIBLY SIMPLE AS AN ECONOMICAL WELL-CRAFTED COMMUNITY HUB IN KING EDWARD STREET

How many people is this “out of control” Dunedin City Council wanting to Massage – BEFORE the October Local Body Elections.

VOTE BUYING
The CULL Stench around this is SO DISGUSTING.

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Drop-in sessions start of community conversation on South Dunedin’s future

This item was published on 22 Aug 2016

A series of drop-in information sessions hosted by the Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council early next month are the start of a community conversation around South Dunedin’s future. The sessions will be at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum on Thursday, 1 September and Friday, 2 September.

DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose will be presenting information about what happened in the 2015 flood, how the current stormwater system works, and how the DCC plans to invest and work with the community in the future.

Ms Bidrose said that it was important to plan carefully for South Dunedin’s changing environment. It was also important to take the time to involve the community in the decision making along the way, rather than to just do things on their behalf.

“Addressing the challenges of the future requires the DCC and ORC starting to have conversations with the community about the challenges, and the expectations and options for what can be achieved. The rest of Dunedin’s population needs to be involved as well. There is a great opportunity to turn some of the challenges into opportunities and give confidence for long-term investment in the area. These drop-in sessions are the beginning of the process. The DCC will be actively seeking local people’s thoughts on these issues and working with the ORC on what the long-term responses might be. I’m looking forward to seeing as many people as possible from the South Dunedin area at the sessions.” –Bidrose [employed by ????]

ORC director of stakeholder engagement Caroline Rowe said the drop-in sessions were part of a wider South Dunedin community engagement plan, aimed at developing a conversation with locals and groups about managing the risks associated with the changing environment. Ms Rowe said they follow the recent release of the ORC’s Natural Hazards of South Dunedin report. The [BULLSHIT ORC] technical report pulls together information and analysis gathered over the past seven years on natural hazards facing the area, particularly the increased likelihood of surface flooding associated with rising sea level. [FALSE AND MISLEADING BULLSHIT]

Presentations, with accompanying video, will be at each session and people will have an opportunity to talk individually to staff from both councils. The hour-long sessions will be repeated several times, with Thursday sessions starting at 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 4.30pm and 7pm. The Friday sessions will start at 10am, 11.30am, and 1pm.

Ongoing engagement planned for the next few weeks also includes briefings for support service agencies and other specific interest groups such as the South Dunedin Business Association, the Otago Chamber of Commerce, and school and early childhood centres.

Contact Sue Bidrose, chief executive DCC on 03 477 4000.

DCC Link

█ Feedback on the proposal can be provided online on the council’s website at http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/council-online/currently-consulting-on/current-consultations/south-dunedin-community-hub

The feedback period runs from Saturday, 20 August until 4pm on Monday, 29 August.

****

Mon, 22 Aug 2016
ODT: South D hub proposal unveiled
The Dunedin City Council is calling for feedback from residents on its preferred option for a library and community hub in South Dunedin before a report is presented to councillors next month. Council services and development general manager Simon Pickford and architect Jon Rennie, of Athfield Architects, presented the council’s preferred option to about 50 people at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum on Saturday morning. Under the $5.25 million proposal, a library would be built in the former BNZ building in King Edward St and the facility linked to the Gasworks Museum through Lorne St. Some facilities, such as a café, would be based at the museum. Mr Pickford said residents had until August 29 to provide feedback to the council on the proposal.

█ For more, enter the terms *south dunedin*, *flood*, *hazard*, *vandervis* (sane) and *cull* (VOTE Cull OUT) in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Election Year. This post is offered in the public interest.

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ORC, DCC continuing Deceptions : Natural Hazards for #SouthDunedin

W H A T ● P L A N ?

ORC stakeholder engagement director Caroline Rowe said the sessions were part of a wider “South Dunedin community engagement plan”.

### ODT Online Tue, 9 Aug 2016
Sessions on natural hazards
By John Gibb
South Dunedin residents will be able to learn more about natural hazards facing the area through drop-in sessions to be held at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum early next month.
The Otago Regional Council is organising the September 1 and 2 sessions, in collaboration with the Dunedin City Council. The drop-in session on the first day will run from 1.30pm to 7pm, and on the second day from 10am to 2.30pm.
Last month the ORC released a report titled “Natural Hazards of South Dunedin”. This report consolidated information and analysis gathered over the past seven years on the natural hazards facing the area, particularly the “increased likelihood of surface flooding associated with rising sea level”.
Read more

W H A T ● R I S K S ?
Answer ……. M I S I N F O R M A T I O N via ORC Hazard Plans and Maps

F I G H T >>> To Protect Your Property Values

“In a report to be tabled at the ORC’s technical committee tomorrow, Ms Rowe said South Dunedin was “an integral part of the wider Dunedin community” and many people and groups had an interest in how its risks would be managed. The report said the ORC also planned several other communication activities over the hazards plan, this month and next.” –ODT

ORC : Combined Council Agenda 10 August – Public.pdf
● Go to Agenda Item 5 (pp 34-35)
2016/0988 South Dunedin Community Engagement Report
The report outlines the approach management is taking to the community engagement as was verbally communicated at the Technical Committee meeting held on 20 July 2016 where Council received the report entitled “The Natural Hazards of South Dunedin” and made the decision to “endorse further community and stakeholder engagement within a timely manner”.

[screenshot – click to enlarge]
ORC Report 4.8.16 South Dunedin Engagement Plan [ID- A924516]

General reading (Otago including Dunedin City District)
ORC : Natural Hazards

● Information coming to this ORC webpage: ORC committee report – natural hazards of the Dunedin district: technical documents

Natural Hazards of South Dunedin – July 2016

● See also, the DCC second generation district plan (2GP) hazard zone information and maps based on ORC data, via the 2GP Index page.

Related Post and Comments:
6.8.16 LGOIMA trials and tribulations with peer reviews #SouthDunedinflood

█ For more, enter the terms *flood*, *hazard*, *south dunedin* and *southdunedinflood* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Election Year. This post is offered in the public interest.

10 Comments

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LGOIMA trials and tribulations with peer reviews #SouthDunedinflood

The following letter has had names removed, except those previously cited by broadcast and print media (public domain). -Eds.

Received from Neil Johnstone
Fri, 5 Aug 2016 at 11:41 p.m.

Subject: DCC and the LGOIMA

Message: I have read concerning comments on your site regarding DCC’s apparent failure to comply with its LGOIMA obligations. You may wish to post my account of my recent experience.

[begins]

Dunedin City Council took ten months to produce its second Infrastructure Report, entitled ‘South Dunedin Public Infrastructure During June 2015 Flood Event Follow-Up’ (Author: R. Stokes). On 28 January 2016 (still three months before the report surfaced), then DCC Group Manager Transport Ian McCabe told the Otago Daily Times “the lengthy timeline was needed to ensure the report was robust, including an external peer review of its findings”. Mr McCabe went on to emphasise that “the report had been widened from an initial focus only on mudtank maintenance, and now also included a fresh look at the network’s design capacity”. That all seemed fair enough.

When the report was ultimately released in late April 2016, it contained no reference to any external (or other) peer review. However, when interviewed by John Campbell on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint programme on April 22, shortly after the Report’s release, Mayor Cull repeatedly referenced “independent” peer review(s) as supporting (“parts of”) the Report’s content. Mr Cull stated that he didn’t know which parts of the report had been reviewed independently. “You would have to talk to her (Ms Stokes) about that,” he said. Presumably, therefore, he hadn’t seen the review(s) either.

On 17 May I sent a LGOIMA request to DCC Chief Executive Sue Bidrose, asking for a copy of the review(s). On 20 May I received an acknowledgement from DCC which rather defeated the purpose of my request but, more importantly, indicated that I would receive a response asap, but within 20 working days. I immediately queried why it should take such a long time to simply send a copy of a recent review, and asked simply for confirmation whether the review actually existed.

This time I received an email from the Group Manager Corporate Services suggesting a “discussion” before they left for overseas. There was no mention of my straightforward query as to whether the review actually existed. I replied immediately, and asked again for a simple yes/no to that question. Again, the question was not answered.

A full month (the maximum allowable period of 20 working days having elapsed since my simple request) later, I received an email from DCC. They were able to report that they had received information from the General Manager Infrastructure and Networks thus: “The response to Mr Johnstone is that we have had a peer review done, however this is still in draft and yet to be finalised (as staff have been focusing on forward work demands, and we have staff away). Once the review is finalised it will be publicly released.” “Therefore we have decided to refuse your request under section 17(d) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, as the information requested will soon be publically (sic) available.”

I considered that response was unsatisfactory. The review, apparently under belated construction, was clearly not what I had repeatedly requested. I should by then have received the review referenced by Messrs McCabe (“external”) and Cull (“independent”), or received an acknowledgement that it did not exist.

Then on the evening of 6 July I was emailed by the General Manager Infrastructure and Networks, a copy of a new review, seemingly hot off the press, and authored by Opus in Auckland. This obviously was not the review that I had requested back on 17 May, as all DCC personnel involved should have known.

On 9 July I wrote to Chief Executive Sue Bidrose, expressing my concerns. I asked the following key questions:

Why, almost two months after my original LGOIMA request, I had still not received an admission that the peer review sought did not in fact exist?
Or, alternatively, if it did exist, why had it not been provided?
Why it took a month after my initial request for me to be merely told (irrelevantly) that a (different) peer review was being prepared, but with no attempt to satisfy my simple, legitimate request?

Almost a week later, a DCC officer returned to the list of respondents. They advised that my (follow-up) enquiry was being treated as a new request, and (you all know the drill) would be dealt with as soon as possible, but within 20 working days of receipt at the latest.

Nineteen working days later I received an emailed response from a Manager Civic and Legal. None of the three questions (above) were answered. They stated that my enquiries had been answered as soon as possible, given the volume of other requests. But the most interesting part of their response reads as follows: “The reported reference in the ODT (Mr McCabe, cited 28 January) to the external peer review was actually a reference to work the Council was undertaking to investigate the performance of the mudtank maintenance contractor…..”

So external means internal in the DCC, and widening means narrowing?

If the manager had been informed correctly, then there was no external review. Why, in that case, was I not told that nearly three months ago? Why did the Mayor apparently believe there was an external (independent, to use his wording) peer review? Furthermore, why did DCC fail to answer my three questions above.

I could, of course, ask these questions of DCC via LGOIMA, but I could then only expect an interim response followed by 20 more working days of inaction and worse.

Instead I have initiated a series of complaints to the Ombudsman, and decided that the public should view yet another example of how our City Hall is operating.

My intent throughout has been to identify the true causes of the June 2015 flood, so that real solutions can be identified and “political” solutions avoided. I have no intention of stopping, despite DCC’s apparent resistance.

[ends]

Neil Johnstone is welcome to publish emails supporting his story; it appears most if not all of the emails he received pertain under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act and therefore reside in public domain. However, the Ombudsmen are best to advise on these matters. In the meantime DCC is welcome to correct any factual errors, in the interests of accuracy and balance. -Eds.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Election Year. This post is offered in the public interest.

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