Building strengthening recommendations put forward by the
Royal Commission report into the Canterbury earthquakes have
been cautiously welcomed by the Waitaki District Council.
The final volumes of the report, which made over 100
recommendations on earthquake-prone buildings, were released
last Friday, and Waitaki District Council chief executive
Michael Ross said the council would now work closely with
other Otago councils to assess the ''scale and impact'' of
the recommendations on the region's buildings.
''Over the next few months we will continue to work with the
public and private sectors to develop a better understanding
of the scale and the potential impact of the issue for
Waitaki and Otago.
''Ultimately, the key issue is ensuring any changes in
legislation and rules work equally well for provincial New
Zealand as for the larger metropolitan centres such as
Wellington and Auckland.
''Our approach has been to provide as much certainty to
building owners as possible during a period of relative
uncertainty. This has included the decision by council to
align the timing of its Dangerous, Insanitary and Earthquake
Prone Buildings Policy (2006) with the work of the Royal
Commission, the public seminar hosted with ANZ-National Bank
earlier in the year and more recently, collaboration with
other councils in Otago on how best to respond and advocate
on any possible changes in legislation.''
One of the report's recommendations was that owners of
unreinforced masonry buildings be given just two years to
have them assessed by engineers and seven years to bring them
up to standard.
It also recommended that local councils should be able to
adopt earthquake-strengthening standards above the existing
national minimum standard, where it was supported by their
However, Mr Ross said it was important to ensure any
resulting changes in legislation were workable in rural towns
such as Oamaru, which contained a large proportion of
There was also a case to be put that buildings built using
Oamaru stone not be classified as unreinforced masonry
buildings, he said.
''The issue is that historically a lot of our buildings have
been built from unreinforced masonry, i.e. Oamaru stone.
However, the construction of those buildings is quite
different to unreinforced masonry elsewhere, in that Oamaru
stone is actually both the exterior and structural strength
of the building.''
He said the council would discuss making a submission on the
recommendations in the new year, but the present
recommendations would prove ''very challenging'' for all of
rural provincial New Zealand.
The issue had the potential to be ''10 times'' a bigger
problem than leaky home syndrome, he said.