The Waitaki District Council hit back yesterday at
Government claims of ''scaremongering'' over a report on the
cost of meeting its proposed earthquake-prone buildings policy.
Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton defended the report by 10
southern councils, which estimated it could cost up to $1.8
billion to assess and strengthen 7440 buildings in the South.
He said Building and Construction Minister Maurice
Williamson's comments were ''very disappointing''.
''This work [the report] should have been done by Government,
but we had to do it,'' he said.
Council chief executive Michael Ross said the report was
''considered, careful and in the spirit of consultation to
Mr Williamson said the 10 councils south of Timaru were
''punching at fog'' and they had ''spent money on a piece of
work that wasn't even needed''.
Mr Familton was hoping the Government would be flexible over
the policy, giving people, particularly in rural areas, local
''Some strengthening does need to be done but it needs to be
affordable or our business people and communities will not
Mr Familton warned having to upgrade buildings - particularly
in rural areas with low commercial returns - could cause
Mr Ross said the report was to help the Government understand
the implications to rural and provincial New Zealand. Data in
the Government's policy was used to arrive at the figures.
Southern councils wanted to understand the implications
because the South had a disproportionate number of old
buildings. For example, 33% of pre-1935 buildings were in the
southern South Island.
A draft submission the council will present on the
Government's proposed policy said the cost to the Waitaki
district could be more than $180 million to assess and
strengthen its buildings.
The submission, still to be finalised, said the Government
policy was likely to affect services as businesses in
economic and marginally economic buildings were forced to
close or relocate.
This would affect jobs and businesses in communities with
limited or low levels of economic growth.
Cr Peter Garvan questioned whether there was an issue outside
major seismic areas, where there was ''not a problem to
solve''. While deaths in the Christchurch quake were tragic,
deaths from New Zealand earthquakes had averaged 3.2 a year
since 1843, less than those from drownings or quad bikes.
The Government's policy said: ''... the financial costs are
often large relative to the benefits, which are small on an
annualised basis and may not be realised for many years (if