The Dunedin City Council is presently consulting on the next stage of its cycle network for South Dunedin in Victoria Road. The project has raised the ire of residents in the area because of a loss of parking, dangers to pedestrians due to the shared design of the proposal, a loss of business and the timeframe of the consultation process. The City Council has already changed the proposed route away from the sand dune area of St Clair/St Kilda because of the stability and safety of the foreshore due to on-going erosion concerns. Despite that, the notion of a cycle track in the dune area seems etched in the public’s mind to allay other effects of the proposal. For the Society, the protection of the dune areas of St Clair and St Kilda remains paramount to the long-term protection of the city, its coastal environment and its associated landscape. As a city Dunedin and its residents have been fortunate to be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities that the sand dunes have afforded them over the years. This, despite the continued pressure being placed upon dune and beach health due to pressures from land use, mixed management practices and continued erosional forces over the last 150 years.
Infrastructural development, such as the proposed cycleway must be mindful of the need to protect and promote the sustainable management of dune health for the welfare of the city and its residents. This is particularly pertinent in the face of recent erosion events along the Dunedin coastline and in the predicted sea level rise scenario’s promoted by various bodies including the City Council. From both perspectives and within the historical context the sand dunes are under extreme pressure that has continued with widespread human modification and destruction of dune habitat. The Society has repeatedly requested the City Council undertake major initiatives such as change in land use and restorative management to ensure the dunes are protected and nurtured into a productive ecological and landscape entity. The cycleway issue means that the City Council must find appropriate measures that allay the community fears over the management and design of the project. However, to achieve this it must utilise good design, consultation and common sense so as not to impose expensive infrastructure on a precarious and fragile dune habitat that protects and provides for the benefit of our city.