The Queenstown Lakes District Council says it has decided
against adopting an ''alarmist approach'' to the Government's
consultation over earthquake-prone buildings and believes
more work needs to be done on details about assessment, risk
Last week, the Otago Daily Times reported a joint
submission from 11 southern councils and five southern
industry and employer groups on the Building Seismic
Performance Consultation Document had been signed off by the
Dunedin City Council.
The submission said the Government should take a
principles-based, rather than prescriptive, approach to the
issue of ensuring members of the public were safe from
In a statement this week, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van
Uden said the council had not participated in the regional
submission because it did not face the same extent of issues
as other councils.
''A large proportion of this district's buildings are modern
stock, less are constructed with unreinforced masonry, and
most tend to be only single or double storey.
''Council's own estimation of the number of buildings
requiring upgrade or demolition are substantially different
to other purported regional figures.''
In its submission on the consultation document, the council
said it sat in a zone ''likely to be affected by a
substantial earthquake on the Alpine Fault''.
While the council was aware of the damage that might be
caused in an earthquake, there were ''no guarantees''
relating to public safety or financial risks associated with
building design and performance.
''The building stock in our country has already performed to
an exemplary standard in world comparisons, but there are
still likely to be some unavoidable injuries and fatalities
relating to earthquake events in the future.''
The council's submission suggested the development of a
seismic assessment tool be a ''desktop risk-based approach''
that should only require an initial assessment - about one or
two hours per building - by the local authority at its own
cost. Any further, alternative or detailed assessment would
be the responsibility of, and cost to, the building owner.
It also submitted a regional (zonal) approach to different
levels of earthquake risk should be built into the assessment
criteria; exemptions for certain low-risk buildings should be
set in regulations on a national basis; and provision should
be made for local authority exemptions and extensions.
Ms van Uden said the council welcomed further discussion with
central government on the appropriate level of upgrade for
older buildings, on an affordable and pragmatic basis.