Wollongong council plans to keep region cool

George Takacs suggests more trees and lighter surfaces to cool the region. Picture: GREG TOTMAN
George Takacs suggests more trees and lighter surfaces to cool the region. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Wollongong has sweltered through some of its driest, hottest summers on record, prompting the council to consider a new plan to keep the region cool.

Councillor George Takacs has called for an urban cooling strategy, looking at ways the council could help bring down the heat on scorching days.

His motion received unanimous support at Monday night's meeting; a result Cr Takacs attributes to people's desire to better manage hot weather.

"This strategy is important so people don't suffer on those hotter days," he said.

"It would mean that residents can still get out and function in heat waves; it just helps to eliminate some of those problems that come from extreme heat."

The seed for the strategy came via a report into the 2009 Victorian bushfires, which revealed twice as many people had died from the heat than the actual fire.

Several councils nationwide, including Sydney and Melbourne, have joined a global campaign to cool down residents.

The Wollongong strategy could include urban greening plans, along with a focus on replacing "hot" surfaces.

"Reflective roof tops, lighter pavements and more trees can really help to minimise the sun's energy," Cr Takacs said.

"Studies have shown bringing down the temperature by just three or four degrees during a heat wave can help reduce that spike in the death rate."

Wollongong councillors also moved that a report into the strategy consider resource constraints.

Cr Takacs claimed cost would not be an issue, noting plans to replace surfaces would only be used on ageing infrastructure.

"We're not going to go around and ask people to replace their roof with a lighter coloured roof, it would only come up if a building needed new re-roofing," he said.

"It's the same with roads - we could look to use a different asphalt, only if that road came up for resurfacing.

The report is set to go to a councillor briefing before recommendations are considered.


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