Cooling the Upfield Corridor – Moreland Council adopts plan mitigating Urban heat

October 14, 2018 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

Cooling the Upfield Corridor UHIE heatmap

Moreland Council has adopted the Cooling the Upfield Corridor Action Plan 2018-2019.

It is not nearly enough to cut emissions and have a zero community emissions by 2040 target, we also need to look at climate adaptation in our highly built up urban environment. This too is part of a climate emergency response framework.

The urban heat island effect amplifies temperatures due to the urban built infrastructure and surfaces such as roads and carparks. Our Municipality is especially vulnerable to the urban heat island effect.

In coming decades Melbourne is likely to experience 50 degrees days according to researchers at the ANU, even if we limit global temperatures to 2 degrees or the much more ambituous 1.5 degrees target.

“Major Australian cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne, may experience unprecedented temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius under 2 degrees of global warming,” said Dr Lewis from the Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at ANU.

“Urgent action on climate change is critical – the severity of possible future temperature extremes simulated by climate models in this study poses serious challenges for our preparedness for future climate change in Australia,” said Sophie Lewis. (1)

The Action Plan is focused on the area located between Park Street, Brunswick and Carr Street, Coburg and is approximately two blocks east of Sydney Road through to the Upfield railway line.

The implementation of the Cooling the Upfield Corridor action plan sets out 19 actions to be delivered as a staged program of projects over the next 11 years with associated resource/budget/delivery timeframes for each action.

It should be noted that transforming the corridor into a greener and cooler space cannot be achieved by Council alone. It will require investment and commitment from residents, businesses, Government and authorities such as VicRoads.

Projects such as the Level Crossing Removal project of the Upfield rail line need to take into account urban heat island effect mitigation as an inherent part of the design. That was an important part of our submission to the Level Crossing Removal Authority.

Ten of the actions by Council are currently resourced and within Council’s Strategic Resource Plan. A further nine additional actions require external grant funding or partnerships top proceed.

While tree planting and introduction of water sensitive urban design features such as rain gardens are being highlighted, Sydney Road is itself highly problematic to green and add tree canopy with significant underground and aerial infrastructure being an impediment.

The plan also highlights that responses should include considerations of the human scale where active modes of transport such as walking, and cycling are prioritised and encouraged over cars. This is also a recognition of the changes in transport behaviour required that will be part of the Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy. (Our submission)

The Action Plan identifies greening and cooling objectives and strategies for the Sydney Road/Upfield Corridor area under 6 themes:

  1. Theme 1: Streets for People – interventions that re-allocate space within existing streetscapes to create new landscaped areas.
  2. Theme 2: Influencing outcomes in the private realm – building collaborative relationships to increase greening opportunities within the private realm.
  3. Theme 3: Utilising Council owned car parks – harnessing opportunities to add landscaping to Council owned land.
  4. Theme 4: Planting in side streets – increase tree canopy cover within the side streets off Sydney Road.
  5. Theme 5: Sydney Road – increase planting opportunities within the Sydney Road streetscape.
  6. Theme 6: Additional Interventions – potential projects requiring new funding which harness opportunities to cool/green the corridor. The additional, presently unfunded, interventions include:
    • Investigate opportunities to create new green space (3 potential projects)
    • Road closure pilot in collaboration with Department of Education.
    • Creation of a new open space within the road reserve of Florence Street, Brunswick.
    • Opportunistic landscape planting in collaboration with private land owners along or near Sydney Road.
    • Coburg Streetscape Masterplan Implementation (8 potential projects)
    • Streetscape improvements to Wilson Avenue, Florence Street and Wilkinson Street.
    • The Coburg Initiatives major urban regeneration projects
    • Advocate for outcomes which reduce UHIE as part of LXRA future works.
    • Sydney Road Revitalisation Project
    • Streetscape upgrades to Sydney Road (4 potential projects)
    • Water play and misting opportunities.
    • Access to drinking water
    • Remove physical barriers to open space where appropriate

We note that Moreland Council still does not have a Drinking Fountain strategy as per a motion of Council from 2014. While we note Council staff are doing development work in this area, there is no strategic document approved by Council being used to inform this work across the municipality.

At Council meeting there was an amendment debated to drop the reference to Water play and misting opportunities. The amendment was lost. While Councillor Irfanli’s views in limiting water use should be noted, misting opportunities should still be investigated for heat health safety reasons for use on those extreme heat days during Summer months. Misting opportunities are of particular importance for pedestrian and cyclist comfort for extreme heat days.

Overall, Climate Action Moreland commends the work of Council staff and Moreland Council on the adoption of this plan. It is part of the essential climate adaptation work that we need to do as a community as temperatures rise and as we experience more extreme heat days. This is a matter of community safety.


Notes:
(1) Lewis, S. C., King, A. D., & Mitchell, D. M. (2017). Australia’s unprecedented future temperature extremes under Paris limits to warming. Geophysical Research Letters, 44, 9947–9956. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL074612
See also Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 October 2017, ‘Really awful’: 50-degree days possible for Sydney, Melbourne, as warming worsens https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/really-awful-50degree-days-possible-for-sydney-melbourne-as-warming-worsens-20171003-gyt512.html

Opportunities for street trees in Sydney Road and side streets – Cooling the Upfield Corridor

Active Transport map – Cooling the Upfield Corridor

Cooling the Upfield Corridor policies

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Entry filed under: Moreland Council, news, Policy, urban forest. Tags: , , , .

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