Climate Ballina - Citizens' Forum
The Climate Ballina Citizens’ Forum was a 2 1/2 day event that was hosted by Council to increase its understanding of our community’s perceptions and concerns around climate change. It also provided clarity on the responses required to address these community concerns and the expectations of Council’s role in this response. This forum was based around a process called ‘deliberative democracy’; a form of public participation where a cross section of the community comes together to talk about issues and their possible solutions.
The forum involved 20 Ballina Shire residents, selected from an initial group of 2000, to work with Council to come up with local ways of responding to the potential impacts of climate change. The group met with Council staff to listen to presentations from some of Australia’s experts on climate change and discussed different aspects of climate change and the implications for the Ballina Shire. The outcomes of the forum have been important in assisting the elected Council determine approaches to respond to climate change.
Of the 53 recommendations put forward by theforum, 40 were accepted by Council, 4 were noted and 2 deferred. Many recommendations covered areas of Council’s operations whilst others extended to other Local, State, Federal agencies and community groups. The list of accepted recommendations as put forward by the forum is provided below. The recommendations from the Citizens’ Forum specific to Council’s operations have been used to inform the development of Council’s Climate Action Strategy and other relevant Council documents.
- Make Council premises/ infrastructure as energy efficient as possible as a model for residents.
- Council to investigate incentives for people who install solar panels and other energy efficient measures on existing housing.
- Council to investigate and consider available options for the management of sea level rise risks and severe weather events in relation to low lying settlements in the shire.
- Council/State government to investigate removal of impediments to evacuation of Ballina (e.g. widening of bridges, removal of bottlenecks).
- As part of a biodiversity strategy, Council and State Government to identify, conserve and enhance flora and fauna corridors to enable fauna and flora migration if the climate demands it.
- Encourage and develop appropriate bus services with State Government and private bus companies (small buses more frequent).
- Educate community on existing bus services.
- Fast forward implementation of cycleway/ mobility plan, including on road lanes (cycleways) and support a cycling culture.
- Investigate light rail connections.
- Promote existing website for carpooling.
- Council to set up a 'bicycle loan/share' system.
- Ensure new buildings have sustainable technology such as solar power, solar hot water and rainwater tanks.
- Recommend to State Government/ community that primary and secondary schools teach science /environment theory in relation to local environment.
- Council to seek advice from Aboriginal elders and involve Aboriginal people in responses to climate change.
- Council to continue using these kinds of democratic processes (citizens’ forum) to both inform/ educate and learn from the community and to ensure diversity of participants (include Aboriginal people).
- Develop a brochure and web page on care of water tanks.
- Build display homes to educate the community about what is possible in terms of ESD.
- Council to provide advice to community on innovative low cost technologies.
- Recommend school education on good waste minimisation and management practices.
- Plain English community information sheets.
- Communicate local climate change information through social networking technology.
- Council to provide/support climate change education and debate in schools.
- Council providing timely and accurate risk information that does not alarm the community.
- Council to promote the environmental programs that it is currently running.
- More energy is put towards 'climate change' education in schools (particularly high schools).
- Council to show leadership in relation to establishment of a local centre for distribution of local and regional produce (lower emissions and sustainable local economy and local-social cohesion).
- Council to support/ enable community gardens, school gardens, local farmers market and backyard vegetable gardens.
- Council's emergency response plans to take greater consideration of risk of increasing and more severe extreme weather events.
- In response to communities’ need at a neighbourhood level to protect vulnerable members during extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, fire, heat waves etc).
- Encourage Council to lobby Government for the continued development of community education and support programs delivered by emergency services. Council to continue to assist by providing the local context to those programs.
- Develop a warning system for the town/s that is coupled with an emergency plan that the community understands (e.g. a storm is coming, siren goes off and people know what to do).
- Protect prime agricultural land.
- Liaise with industry and stakeholders to stop the burning of cane on site.
- Research pathway to legislation on not burning cane.
- Council to plant more native trees, but not in places where they create a bushfire hazard near houses.
- Investigate funding partnerships with private sector.
- Lobby State and Federal government for adaptation funding based on Ballina Shire being a high risk/vulnerability to climate change.
- Lobby State and Federal government to assist with funding for adaptation to climate change in shire.
- Form alliance with other coastal shires in NSW to collaborate on funding from State Government.
- Investigate funding available for communities at risk from State, Federal and international bodies.
last updated February 2012