Hearing on quake Bill in Dunedin

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
Southern councils worried about new earthquake-prone building legislation look set to make their case on their own patch, when a Government select committee visits Dunedin later this month.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday told the Otago Daily Times he had received an assurance the select committee would travel to Dunedin to hear submissions on the proposed changes.

The assurance came from National MP Maggie Barry, chairwoman of the local government and environment committee, which is to hear submissions on the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill.

Ms Barry confirmed when contacted a majority of the committee had voted to travel to Dunedin to hear submissions at a public meeting on June 26.

However, the decision needed to be ratified - which was expected to happen today - before being confirmed, she said.

Mr Cull said the move came after he wrote to request the committee travel to Dunedin, which led to a subsequent meeting with Ms Barry.

The hearing would be an opportunity for councils to present a united front against the proposed changes, which have prompted an outcry in the South.

A submission signed by 13 South Island councils, including the Dunedin City Council, will be presented by Mr Cull.

Maggie Barry
Maggie Barry
Cr David Benson-Pope, chairman of the DCC's planning and regulatory committee, would also present the DCC's submission, and it was possible other Southern councils could also present individual submissions, Mr Cull said.

Having the select committee in Dunedin would allow Southern councils to put their case to committee members with additional ''support'', extra time, and without joining a ''queue of other people'' in Wellington, he said.

''They can actually focus on our submission from our region and we can have, potentially, more support.

''There may be other individual submissions from this area as well. Just as we're making a combined one and an individual one, I imagine other councils may want to make individual ones, too,'' Mr Cull said.

It was possible the DCC could also invite select committee members to tour the city, to see for themselves what the Southern councils were talking about, Mr Cull said.

The Bill gave councils five years to assess nearly 200,000 buildings built before March 31, 2005, including all non-residential and high-rise, multi-unit apartment buildings, for earthquake risks.

Owners of earthquake-prone buildings would then get another 15 years to upgrade to at least 34% of building code requirements, at an expected cost of about $1.7 billion.

DCC staff estimated the cost for inspecting more than 4200 buildings in Dunedin would total about $5.6 million over five years, and it was feared some owners would opt to abandon their buildings instead.



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