An ex-civil engineer training for his second attempt at
swimming the length of Lake Wanaka says the Queenstown Lakes
District Council made the right call in closing Wanaka's
public pool because of earthquake risks.
Roger North said the Wanaka Community Pool's independent
engineering reports made public by the council yesterday
''smelt of a bottomless pit of expense and problems'' and it
was time to ''get on with a new solution''.
Mr North came close to completing a 45km solo swim of Lake
Wanaka in February and had been visiting the pool in
Plantation Rd regularly while working towards another record
attempt, when its doors were suddenly shut last Friday.
While he was ''incredibly gutted'' over the loss of his
training venue, his engineering background left him with no
doubt the council had made the only decision possible given
the reports' findings.
Wanaka resident and weekly pool user Quentin Smith said he
had put considerable pressure on the council to release the
reports, including an Official Information Act request which
was initially declined.
It was only after speaking with Queenstown Mayor Vanessa van
Uden the reports became publicly available, he said.
Mr North considered it ''disappointing and painful'' so much
effort had been required from Mr Smith to see the reports.
''I think the truth sets you free and they [the QLDC] had
nothing to hide. The public are not all lay people.
Some of them are perfectly capable of absorbing the detail in
the report,'' Mr North said.
Both reports on the pool building were prepared by Holmes
Consulting Group, in Queenstown, and are being peer reviewed
The first is based on a review of the 1991-92 structural
drawings of the pool building and assesses its seismic
capacity as 23% of the new building standard, which means it
is classified as earthquake prone under the Building Act
It concludes the building has only the capacity to resist a
one-in-25-year earthquake as opposed to a 1-in-500-year
The second report is based on a physical assessment of the
Holmes engineers found a timber purlin specified in the
structural drawings was absent, and identified six other
issues that reduced the building's structural strength.
That report concludes the building meets only 20% of the new
The QLDC received the second report last week and sought
independent legal advice before closing the pool until
After reading the reports, Mr Smith agreed they were
''credible'' and showed the pool building was well past its
It was time to ''move on'' and start planning a new pool
alongside the future Wanaka Sports Facility at the Three
Parks subdivision, while investigating reasonable solutions
to keep the pool running in the short term, Mr Smith said.
''I don't think Wanaka is being well-served for sporting
facilities in general and that's why this needs to be
prioritised and we need to stop talking about it and get on
Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks considered it ''dead money'' to
invest further in the Plantation Rd pool site.
''Especially now we know the state of the current pool
complex. Now's the time to bring forward building the new
pool with the sports facility at the chosen Three Parks
Mr North, who is still deciding if he will commit to
commuting to Cromwell for his swim sessions, believed the
existing site was still the best location for a pool, but
said he would support Three Parks if it meant getting on with
Councillors will discuss interim pool solutions before their
scheduled meeting at 1pm today, when Ms van Uden will make a
public statement on the situation.