111                                                  27 February 2017

Policy and Regulatory

02 February 2017

 

 

 

File: (17/132)

 

 

 

 

Report no: PRC2017/1/55

 

Risk and Resilience

 

Purpose of Report

1.         Advise Council on the progress of the Risk and Resilience work programme.

Recommendations

It is recommended that the Committee recommend that Council notes the information in the paper.

 

Background

2.         Risk and Resilience has been identified as a key issue for the city in both the Environmental Sustainability Strategy and the Infrastructure Strategy. This report is the first step towards responding to SLT’s request that officers develop a detailed resilience work programme for Council consideration. The report;

a.   Identifies four resilience priority areas for Hutt City to address;

b.   Presents how Hutt City is currently addressing resilience issues facing the city; and

c.   Presents the capacity Hutt City has to address resilience through Council functions. 

Discussion

Resilience Priority Areas

3.         Resilience is the capacity of Hutt City to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks it may experience.

4.         Officers used the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) framework to conduct a preliminary resilience assessment of Hutt City. Officers also conducted a desktop review of relevant literature, consulted with key stakeholders, various council officers, organisations in the community, and worked closely with the Wellington 100RC work group. Through this process four resilience priority areas were identified for Hutt City to address to create a more resilient city. These are:

a.   Disaster Preparedness:  Hutt City is vulnerable to natural hazards with earthquakes and flooding posing the greatest risk of major city wide disruption. A range of other hazards, such as surface flooding, tsunami, and landslides, are risks in more specific areas of the city. A key step in creating a resilient community is acknowledgement of the risks facing the city and the community understanding their role in preparing themselves for a worst case scenario disaster. Council can work with affected communities to ensure their safety and to mitigate the risk of natural hazards through actions of: avoid, control, transfer, and accept.

b.   Addressing Inequalities: A resilient city is made up of resilient communities and addressing inequality in our city will help us to ensure all areas of the city are prepared and resilient. Inequality is predominantly caused by external factors such as global economic conditions and central government policy. However, in our city we can help to level the playing field by offering people opportunities such as, access to facilities, education and healthy spaces. By addressing inequalities we can help to create more resilient self-sufficient communities that have the ability to adapt to anything that the future throws at them.

c.   Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: To address the issues of climate change and sea level rise we need to mitigate and adapt. Mitigation will involve decreasing our cities carbon footprint by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and transitioning to a sustainable renewable energy based economic and transportation system. Adaptation is the process of adapting to the effects of climate change - this will also help increase our resilience to natural hazards that affect the same area. As we look for adaptation solutions we will need to ensure that we engage and create partnerships with affected communities to ensure we develop positive solutions. Mitigation activities can start as soon as possible, and we need to ensure they do, but adaptation needs to be a well thought out and inclusive process.

d.   Economic Vulnerabilities: We already have a diverse and resilient economy and are doing a lot to ensure that it stays that way but we cannot be complacent. We have to keep examining what the future will hold and act accordingly. It is apparent that business cycles are becoming shorter and companies are operating for shorter periods than their predecessors were. We need to embrace technology while making sure it does not exclude people from participating in our economy. We need to reduce our reliance on outside inputs to our system and investigate and support different ways of doing trade in our city to ensure continuing prosperity.

 

 

How is Hutt City currently addressing resilience?

5.         Officers conducted a survey to assess how the activities currently being delivered by Hutt City Council address the resilience priority areas. Twenty one Divisional Managers (including Council Controlled Organisations) took part in the survey which identified 50 actions that are addressing at least one of the priority areas to some extent. The actions of Divisions were scored on how well they address resilience priority areas – the score does not relate to the performance, importance or quality of the work being undertaken by the Division. Areas that are being addressed are considered to be strengths while areas that are not, are considered to be gaps.

6.         Understandably different Divisions and Groups have different strengths and gaps in relation to the resilience priority areas.  For the purpose of this report we will be looking at the strengths and gaps for Council as a whole.

Strengths

7.         In terms of resilience, Council’s main strengths are in disaster preparedness with regard to earthquakes and flooding and addressing inequalities. Although these are strengths, there are still opportunities for Council to increase activity in these areas. 

8.         Disaster Preparedness. Legislation and its accompanying regulations are the main driving force for Council action on disaster preparedness. Central Government provides considerable direction through legislation such as the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016, Resource Management Act 1991 and Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2016. Council’s administration of the District Plan, Building Act, and earthquake regulations is an effective tool for developing the resilience of the city. Council is currently taking part in a Riskscape assessment to assess the possible benefit of planning options in the event of a natural disaster. When reviewing the hazards section of the District Plan Council needs to decide how much of a precautionary approach should be taken while considering what is needed to achieve the growth target of a population of 110,000 plus 6,000 more homes by 2032.

(i)         City Infrastructure Divisions have many actions underway that are reducing the possible impacts of an earthquake and flooding.  These projects include: Cross Valley Link and the effective road network, strengthening of bridges, input into the Riverlink project, Parks and Gardens contingency planning, contracts for recovery operations and Wellington Water’s Water Supply Resilience work.

(ii)        The Governance and Regulatory group scored well in three of the five factors for disaster preparedness.

(iii)       The Emergency Management Office is addressing all these factors through its work to encourage preparedness, recovery plans and operations of the Emergency Management Office in the event of an emergency. 

(iv)      Environmental Consents Division provide hazard information through the LIM process and the administration of the District Plan, Building Act, and the Resource Management Act. This reduces or mitigates some of the vulnerability associated with building in hazardous areas.

(v)       City Promotions communicate information to the public through a range of media. City Promotions also work closely with the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office and organisations such as Wellington Water to deliver critical messages. There is an opportunity to promote and create a larger degree of self-sufficiency in the community. There needs to be research completed to decide if it is more cost effective to achieve this through regulatory or non-regulatory means.

Influence of Kaikoura Earthquake

9.         The Kaikoura earthquake on November 14th 2016 has significantly increased the seismic risk in Wellington, Lower Hutt, and Blenheim. This has increased action in this area over the past few months and may help to fast track future projects. Central and Local Government are working closely together to address disaster preparedness issues for the Wellington Region. This includes;

(i)         Central government review and focus on actions to improve resilience of their services in Wellington post-earthquake, including top five response packages identified by local government.

(ii)        Wellington Lifelines Group action list for proposed regional projects that improve resilience to earthquakes with implementation time frames of immediate, within 6 months, and 6 months plus.

(iii)       WREMO November events (earthquake and flooding) review and resulting action list to improve future recovery operations.

(iv)       An example of this focus is the fast tracking of work to reinforce masonry and parapets on high risk buildings by January 2018. This work has been mandated using emergency powers under the Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery Act 2016. Central Government and local councils will pay for up to half the cost of work.

(v)        Hutt City’s Civil Defence Plan is currently under review. During any Civil Defence emergency it is council staff and the community who are called on to manage the response. As an organisation three senior staff have been seconded to focus on ensuring Hutt City have got systems, procedures and resources in place to respond to emergency situations. They’re working on projects such as upgrading equipment, to making plans for Emergency Assistance centres, mass temporary accommodation, supply chain planning, processes for tsunami threats, public education, and staff training etc.

10.       Addressing Inequalities. In Part 1 Section 3(d) of The Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) the purpose of the Act is to “provide for local authorities to play a broad role in meeting the current and future needs of their communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions.”  Section 11A(e) includes “libraries, museums, reserves, and other recreational facilities and community amenities” in the definition of local public services. This mandates a lot of the work that is undertaken by council that addresses inequalities, including;

(i)     SLT’s priorities of a focus on the North East and creating world class community facilities have contributed to the council’s perceived strength in addressing inequalities. Developments such as; Walter Nash Centre, Petone Settlers Museum Refurbishment and the ongoing construction of the Stokes Valley Community Hub and the Walter Mildenhall Park redevelopment exemplify this objective.

(ii)    These are great pieces of community infrastructure that help to foster social capital and create opportunities for people to realise pathways to prosperity. There is opportunity to implement strategic objectives that address the needs of resilience priority areas into the development of community amenities. These are especially important for up and coming projects as there is still the opportunity to achieve co-benefits. Large scale infrastructure projects that address inequalities are often achieved through the mediums of sport, recreation, information, music and culture. Is there an opportunity to deliver these services while increasing awareness and action on climate change and reducing economic vulnerabilities?

(iii)   Dynamic and varied activities, programmes and events are provided throughout Council. Examples of these are; city wide events, computer club house programme, digital literacy classes, green gardener services and much more. These non-regulatory methods have the ability to address issues as they appear and also help to build the social capital of the city. The Libraries division is a great example as it has transitioned to the digital age, striving to deliver the services the community need and not the services it was equipped for. Non regulatory activity provides flexibility and allows Council to make smaller investment commitments when addressing inequalities.

 

Gaps

11.       In terms of the resilience priority areas, Council gaps are in climate change, sea level rise, and economic vulnerabilities. These areas are being addressed by Council actions but to a much lesser extent than other areas. There is very little action required by legislation that addresses these areas.

12.       Climate Change and Sea Level Rise. There are very few regulatory requirements for climate change mitigation and adaption actions mandated by legislation. The Waste Minimisation Act 2008 has the purpose of reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill. The Act tasks local government (territorial authorities) with promoting effective and efficient waste management and minimisation within their districts. It does have some effect but doesn’t directly address climate change and sea level rise.

13.       Climate change adaptation is an area that both Local and Central Government could continue to take more ownership of. There have been moves made by local authorities to mitigate the risk of coastal hazards through the District Plan process. The changes that have been proposed have twice been reversed due to legal challenges from their communities. Recently Hon Paula Bennett (Minister for Climate Change Issues) announced the establishment of the Climate Change Adaptation Technical Working Group (CCATWG) to provide advice to the Government on how New Zealand can adapt to the impacts of climate change from an economy-wide, cross-sector perspective. Council needs to decide if it wants to take a precautionary approach to sea level rise adaptation through either infrastructure solutions or regulatory methods such as the District Plan to regulate land use in vulnerable coastal areas or a combination of both.

14.       Hutt City Council activity in this area includes;

(i)   The City Infrastructure group is often taking into account the predicted effects of climate change and promoting conservation of the natural environment. This is especially so in the Parks and Gardens division which promotes and protects our natural environment but also manages issues that will become more frequent, such as bush fire risk.

 

(ii)  The Riverlink project is being driven by the need for greater flood protection after flood predictions were revised to include the predicted effects of climate change.

 

(iii) Wellington Water manages the storm water network which alleviates surface flooding. In response to climate change Wellington Water and Hutt City Council have decided to increase the design standards of pipe drains. Rainfall intensities used for storm water system design purposes have also been increased to reflect the anticipated changes in rainfall patterns over the next 100 years.

 

(iv)            The Cross Valley Link is a project that has been on and off the table for the past decade, and is currently being looked at again. If it were to be completed it would help to create significant redundant space for future sea-level rise adaptation around the Petone foreshore.

 

(v) Non-regulatory methods are used throughout council to address climate change mitigation. Council has taken the initiative of installing electric vehicle charging stations around the city and has introduced electric vehicles into the corporate fleet. Council provides support for community gardens, Enviro schools, and promotes walking and cycling.

 

15.       As referred to in the Addressing Inequalities section there are opportunities for climate change mitigation activity to be implemented through other areas of council. Climate change adaptation needs to be conducted through a combination of large scale infrastructure through to regulatory and non-regulatory approaches and community engagement activities.

16.       Economic Vulnerabilities. There is no legislation or regulatory requirements that require Council action to address economic vulnerabilities. It would seem unlikely that there will be legislation mandating action in this area in the next 10 years.

17.       Large scale infrastructure can play a role in reducing economic vulnerabilities by creating resilient transport networks that reduce the opportunity for supply chain failure due to road closures. The Petone to Grenada link road will help to increase the economic resilience of the region. Another example could be the development of a large food production facility (farm, garden, etc.) implemented in Hutt City that would reduce supply chain vulnerability or a linked group of community gardens across the valley floor but that at present is an unlikely scenario. 

18.       Non-regulatory actions are currently used by council to address economic vulnerabilities. The development and promotion of STEMM industries (science, technology, engineering, manufacturing and maths) is carried out by the City Development Division and Libraries. The work is focused on promoting the importance of education in these fields and also to support the growth of high tech industries in the city. This seems like a logical approach to address this issue considering councils function and resources.

19.       There may be ways to address other areas of economic vulnerabilities through this method for example the importance of food security and the vulnerability of supply chains could be highlighted to encourage domestic food cultivation. Council does provide the green gardener service and works with Enviro-schools but these initiatives do not cover the scale of the issue. Non-regulatory methods are the best way for Council to address economic vulnerabilities but council also has to consider how big a role it should play in this area.

 Council Functions to Address Resilience

20. Council has the ability to address resilience through council functions at three distinct levels:

·    Large Scale Infrastructure Projects:  E.g. Petone to Grenada Link Road, Wellington 7day Water Resilience, and Cross Valley Link.

·    Legislation and Regulation: E.g.  Building Act 2016, Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2016, the District Plan, Food Act and Bylaws.

·    Non Regulatory Methods: E.g.  Providing hazard information, building social capital, providing support and guidance, and leading by example.

Examples of how Council’s actions using these functions are in the above section.

21. Large scale infrastructure projects can reduce the vulnerability of Hutt City if they are strategic and future focused in their approach. Projects of this manner strive to provide a large benefit to wider community. Large scale infrastructure has to go through an extensive process to secure funding from central government, involves a lengthy amount of stakeholder consultation, and can take a significant amount of time to complete construction.

22. Council can increase the resilience of the city through behavior change initiated through legislation. Council has to administer acts such as the, Resource Management Act 1991, Local Government Act 2002, and Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2016 etc. Council also has the ability to create Bylaws under the Local Government Act 2002. The Act mandates the following as the purpose of bylaws:

(i)    Protecting the public from nuisance:

 

(ii)   Protecting, promoting, and maintaining public health and safety:

 

(iii)  Minimising the potential for offensive behaviour in public places.

23. The District Plan is another essential tool for developing the resilience of Hutt City. It is required under the Resource Management Act 1991 and is guided by National and Regional Policy Statements. When reviewing the District Plan Council needs to decide how much of a precautionary approach should be taken in regards to natural hazards while considering what is needed to achieve the growth target of a population of 110,000 plus 6,000 more homes.

24. The District Plan and Bylaws have to go through a consultation process before the can become operational therefore they can take a long time to create the desired behaviour change. Legislation has to go through the rigours of parliament and can also take a long time to become operational.

25. Non regulatory methods allow Council to act with more flexibility and with less financial risk. Non regulatory methods can include activities such as, providing information, providing support and guidance, leading by example, and advocacy. These methods do not provide the same widespread benefit as large scale infrastructure or legislation but can complement the work of these bigger mechanisms. Non regulatory methods can work well to build resilience in specific vulnerable areas and for vulnerable people. 

26. Council officers are currently examining and developing a business case for a Community Resilience Contestable Fund which is an example of a non-regulatory approach that engages the community in addressing resilience issues. This would be a contestable fund that encourages members of the community to develop solutions to the resilience issues facing their communities and apply for funding to implement those solutions. The fund would be open to anyone who can prove that their project would result in wider resilience benefits for the community. The fund has the potential to be an important and useful tool for community engagement on these issues.

Conclusion

27. To create a more resilient Hutt City the Council needs to address the resilience priority areas through the appropriate council functions. Council also needs to decide what is its role and responsibility in addressing the resilience priority areas. Resilience can be embedded and work in tandem within council’s current strategies and priorities to realise and create co-benefits that will lead to a resilient Hutt City.

Options

28.       To note the information in paper.

Consultation

29.       Internal engagement has taken place for the survey as well as workshops with community organisations. This has been used to inform this paper.

Legal Considerations

30.       There are no legal considerations at this stage.

Financial Considerations

31.       There are no financial considerations at this stage.

Other Considerations

32.       In making this recommendation, officers have given careful consideration to the purpose of local government in section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002. Officers believe that this recommendation falls within the purpose of the local government in that it looks at the current and anticipated future circumstances to provide advice in creating good quality infrastructure and service for future generations. It does this in a way that is cost-effective because it provides robust advice to make sound future investments taking into account anticipated future circumstances.

Appendices

There are no appendices for this report.   

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Geraint Breese

Policy Advisor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewed By: Wendy Moore

Divisional Manager, Strategy and Planning

 

 

 

Approved By: Kim Kelly

General Manager, Strategic Services