Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull: 'This is one of the biggest issues
to face councils, building owners and the wider community
in a generation.' Photo Craig Baxter
Communities south of Timaru could face a bill of more
than $1.8 billion under proposed changes to rules governing
Ten of the 11 southern South Island councils went in together
on a desk-top analysis of the likely cost of the proposals to
improve the national earthquake-prone building system as they
stand in a consultation document currently open for
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, speaking on behalf of the southern
councils group, released the results of the study this
He said the study covered off the worst-case scenario under
the proposed policy.
The proposal is that councils would be responsible for
initial engineering assessments of buildings, which would
have to be done within five years, and the owners of
buildings found to be earthquake-prone would have another 10
years to strengthen or demolish them.
The councils believe there may be as many as 22,600 rural and
urban buildings south of Timaru that require assessment, and
more than 7440 that require demolition or strengthening.
The $1.8 billion cost was mainly for building owners to
strengthen buildings, but included a $30 million cost for
councils to undertake the seismic capacity assessments, which
would need to be recovered through rates or user charges.
Mr Cull said councils accepted work needed to be done on this
issue in response to what happened in Christchurch, but any
chances needed to be flexible, risk-based, practical and
affordable for building owners and communities.
Rural provincial areas would be seriously disadvantaged by
the proposed changes to earthquake legislation, he said.
"The accountabilities, risk allocation and timeframes put
forward by the Crown would place a disproportionate burden on
rural and provincial New Zealand. This is one of the biggest
issues to face councils, building owners and the wider
community in a generation, and, as such, it is important we
work together to ensure any changes are right first time."
The councils would make a submission based on the study and
their concerns in the hope the information would help better
inform the Government in its decision-making, particularly
around the impact the policy could have on rural provincial