Planning for the big one: Glenorchy invited to ORC workshops

by Kim Bowden - Aug 28, 2023

This week businesses and residents at the top of Lake Whakatipu have the chance to feed into discussions on how to disaster-ready their patch of paradise.

Earlier this year the Otago Regional Council was presented with a report on options to manage significant natural hazard risks in and around Glenorchy - which Dunstan Ward councillor Michael Laws called one of the most depressing of his career.

The crux of it, the risk of damage from liquefaction or flooding in the event of a massive earthquake is very real, and the options to mitigate that risk difficult, costly, and no silver bullet.

In a statement today the regional council's natural hazards manager Jean-Luc Payan says the main focus of the workshops will be to discuss the range of possible responses available.

Remember the images of ground in Christchurch turned porridge-like post earthquakes? Similar stuff is likely when the big one hits Glenorchy (Image: ORC/Tonkin + Taylor report).

The report presented to the council in May outlines a number of clever engineering solutions to the problem, including bolstering the ground under houses or with compacted gravel meters deep or grids of upright concrete beams. Up in Christchurch, swathes of land in greenfield development have benefitted from such techniques.

Dr Payan says, “Everything is on the table at this stage".

"This is an opportunity to collectively learn more about the pros and cons of different responses and their potential impacts on the community.” 

The plan is for the community discussions to inform council decision making on a pathway forward later this year.

“During the workshop we will be asking for community input on a wide variety of methods that could potentially be used to manage the natural hazards risks."

The workshops are expected to build on previous engagement sessions and community feedback collected to date.

In attendance at this Thursday's workshops will be NIWA principal scientist Dr Paula Blackett, alongside representatives from across the ORC, QLDC and Civil Defence.

When the report was presented to the ORC's Safety and Resilience Committee, chair Gretchen Robertson said figuring out the risks in Glenorchy and how to manage them was “really, really challenging”, and with each step taken by the council “ultimately, the community needs to be with us”. 

Keen to have a say?

When: Thursday, August 31

Where: Glenorchy Community Hall, Mull St, Glenorchy

Workshop options: 1 to 3pm (refreshments provided) or 6 to 8pm (with a sausage sizzle fundraiser run by the Glenorchy School Parents, Teachers, and Friends Association from 5.30pm).

Read more:

Glenorchy facing 'tens to hundreds of millions of dollars' to be disaster-ready

ORC report confirms Glenorchy as risky as it is beautiful

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