Mayors and council chief executives south of Timaru have
received a report that signals the potential
multimillion-dollar cost to ratepayers of the proposed national
earthquake-prone building policy.
A desktop exercise has been carried out on the building stock
in the lower South Island to work out how much it could cost
councils to assess the earthquake-prone buildings in their
territories, and what it would then cost property owners to
bring those buildings up to code.
The report has been prepared by infrastructure consultancy
Rationale, which was commissioned by the local authorities in
the lower South Island, except the Queenstown Lakes-District
Council, to look at the economic impact of the new policy.
The Central Otago District Council revealed earlier this
month that each council gave information about their building
stock to Rationale, which worked out which buildings would
need assessment and - at that preliminary stage - used a base
figure of $400 a square metre to strengthen the buildings.
The proposed national policy is that local authorities would
have up to five years after the changes took effect to carry
out seismic capacity assessments on all non-residential and
multi-unit, multi-storeyed residential buildings in their
Owners would then have 10 years to strengthen or demolish
Submissions on the proposal are open until March 8.
When contacted yesterday, mayors and chief executives would
not comment on what was in the report, pending a public
release on Friday.
However, Central Otago District Council chief executive Phil
Melhopt told the Vincent Community Board earlier this month
that, at that stage, Rationale estimated it would cost the
council $2 million to assess its 1600 earthquake-prone
buildings and building owners $52 million to bring them up to
the required standard.
He described it as ''a huge issue'', and board members said
they were concerned about the effect on businesses.
Clutha District Council chief executive Charles Hakkaart last
week told that council's regulatory services committee, he
had seen the figures and ''some of the numbers are
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said his council's figures were
worse than Central's and it was a ''massive'' issue.
Following the Vincent Community Board meeting, Waitaki MP
Jacqui Dean issued a statement saying concerns about the cost
of making buildings quake-safe were premature.
''The $50 million repair bill that's being bandied around is
a little mischievous and, without proper structural engineer
assessments, can't be considered accurate.''
Further, the Government was still in the process of
consulting over its new national policy, with public meetings
being held across New Zealand this month, she said.
She said getting the policy right meant striking a balance
between the risks posed by buildings in earthquakes and the
costs of strengthening or demolishing them.