Council looks into quake susceptibility

A Waitaki District Council representative has conceded that there is an issue of earthquake safety relating to several council-owned buildings in Oamaru.

But more information was needed to determine how great that risk was, and what work would need to be done to mitigate against any such danger.

The development comes after the Oamaru Courthouse was last week one of six court buildings nationally ordered by the Ministry of Justice to cease hearings and undergo earthquake strengthening.

Work to strengthen the stone building, which an Opus engineering report showed was able to meet just 13% of the earthquake-strengthening standards, will take 12 months at a cost of about $300,000.

Waitaki District Council strategy group manager Richard Mabon acknowledged there was an issue, and said the council recognised the need to provide safe public buildings for its community and staff.

"Council is also aware that the Government response to the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission may well lead to higher standards of earthquake strengthening for public buildings," Mr Mabon said.

"Council wants to make decisions that are financially prudent and sustainable for the community.

"To do this, it needs to better understand the level of risk that relates to its buildings and the costs and benefits of different options for dealing with those risks."

Detailed engineering assessments have been carried out on the council-owned Forrester Gallery and Opera House - both on Thames St - confirming that both buildings are not earthquake-damage prone.

However the council does not have any such advice for its other buildings.

"Council officers are gathering information to support informed decision-making by elected members on these issues," Mr Mabon said.

"Some of this information is subject to uncertainty and better decisions would result from waiting until the uncertainty is resolved.

"For example, the earthquake building standards and the costs of addressing them are dependent on the outcomes of the Royal Commission."

The final report from the Christchurch inquiry is expected in March.




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