Central Otago district property owners cannot afford the
cost of seismic assessments on their buildings, the Central
Otago District Council will tell the Government.
''The bottom line is that for rural communities such as ours,
this is completely unaffordable. If implemented, the shock of
this will be as devastating to us as the earthquake was to
Christchurch,'' Cr Martin McPherson said.
The proposed national earthquake-prone building policy would
mean local authorities would be required to get seismic
capacity assessments on all non-residential and multi-unit,
multistoreyed residential buildings, within five years of the
policy taking effect.
Building owners would then have a year to submit
strengthening or demolition plans and 10 years to carry them
Council chief executive Phil Melhopt recently told the
Vincent Community Board that Central Otago ratepayers would
foot the bill of about $2 million for seismic assessments and
it would cost property owners about $52 million for
At its meeting yesterday, the council signed off on a
submission which said it opposed making it a requirement for
councils to be responsible for undertaking the assessments.
It said the cost of the assessments should be funded by the
building owners, not the ratepayers, as ''councils may have
to significantly increase staff levels or have the work
completed under contract, the additional costs of which may
result in rate increases''.
Council planning and environment manager Louise van der Voort
said if council staff were to do the assessments and then the
building failed in an earthquake and someone was injured,
that could fall back on council.
''What we are suggesting [to the Government] is that a
suitably qualified professional do the work because they are
qualified and can carry the risk,'' she said.
The submission said the council did not have the capacity to
complete the assessment work within the five-year period as
there were potentially 1600 buildings in the district that
would need to be assessed. It also disagreed with demolition
after 10 years and instead suggested a more flexible approach
should be taken to making each building safe and/or enable
''In rural New Zealand where low economic returns are
unlikely to warrant building strengthening, potentially there
may be whole streets demolished.
''This would adversely impact economically, environmentally
and socially on town centres and their communities,'' the
submission said. It could also result in the loss of
''We consider a more flexible approach is necessary in order
to meet the objective of reducing the risk, while enabling
the continued survival of small communities.''
Councillors agreed they would front up to central government
in person if they got a chance, to put weight behind their
Mr Melhopt's figures came from a report by infrastructure
consultancy firm Rationale, commissioned by the majority of
local authorities in the lower South Island, to look at the
economic impact of the new policy.
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean issued a statement which labelled the
figures as ''mischievous'' and said they could not be
considered accurate without proper structural engineers'
assessments. At the meeting yesterday, Cr John Lane
criticised Mrs Dean's comments, calling them unhelpful, and
invited her to front up to council to answer their questions.
Submissions on the proposal are open until March 8.