MPs talk earth­quake strength­en­ing with lo­cals


Stu­art Smith (Op­po­si­tion spokesman for Civil De­fence, Earth­quake Com­mis­sion and Viti­cul­ture) and Alas­tair Scott paid a whirl­wind visit to Dan­nevirke on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 15 meet­ing in­vited guests at the Busi­ness Hub 2.15pm.

This was a fact-find­ing and shar­ing event, the visi­tors want­ing to hear from those present about lo­cal con­cerns re­lated to earth­quake strength­en­ing re­quire­ments, earth­quake readi­ness as well as mat­ters re­lated to Civil De­fence.

Present were mayor Tracey Col­lis, CEO Blair King, re­silience man­ager Paddy Driver and coun­cil­lor Carol Isaac­son from the Tararua Dis­trict Coun­cil, Dan­nevirke Com­mu­nity Board chair­man Ross McDon­ald and board mem­ber Terry Hynes, build­ing own­ers Michael Schaare and Richard Veitch, real es­tate rep­re­sen­ta­tives Kerry Suther­land and Dave Frith and the press.

Alas­tair Scott was the first to ad­mit that the new reg­u­la­tions which came into ef­fect July 1, 2017 put a lot of pres­sure on small towns. Stu­art Smith opened by ex­press­ing a strong wish to have ru­ral towns flour­ish but over the next hour there were few ideas of­fered.

Mayor Tracey Col­lis asked if there could be tax de­ductibil­ity for build­ing own­ers if they brought their build­ings up to stan­dard. This met with ob­ser­va­tions from Stu­art Smith about the com­pli­cated na­ture of as­sess­ing build­ing strength­en­ing ac­tions.

Tararua Dis­trict Coun­cil CEO Blair King ham­mered the point that the leg­is­la­tion, while it may be ap­pro­pri­ate for large build­ings with mul­ti­ple ten­ants in the city, if ap­plied to 1-2 storeyed build­ings in ru­ral towns each with 1-2 ten­ants cre­ate real prob­lems. He said “Blue Chip ten­ants” like the banks were de­mand­ing high lev­els of com­pli­ance, putting huge pres­sure on ru­ral land­lords.

He also took is­sue with the word­ing of the new reg­u­la­tions which lumped safe build­ings to­gether with un­safe ones be­cause of their ma­te­ri­als.

Thirdly, he com­plained at the cost of get­ting an en­gi­neer to as­sess a build­ing (of­ten $30,000+) when there was no ac­cepted de­sign method­ol­ogy to use.

Costs of com­pli­ance in other ar­eas of coun­cil like wa­ter pu­rity and waste dis­posal was also eat­ing away at re­serves of cash which could be used in the ac­tual re-en­gi­neer­ing of build­ings.

Kerry Suther­land asked what was likely to hap­pen to land­lords who do noth­ing as he feared there could be quite a few.

In re­sponse, Stu­art Smith said he was de­ter­mined that key build­ings like the Civil De­fence bases and other govern­ment cen­tres should be safe. He re­minded those present dis­tricts would be on their own for up to a week in the event of a ma­jor earth­quake and they needed to be pre­pared.

Mayor Tracey Col­lis said Tararua was ahead of the ball game with seven emer­gency plans set up but re­silience man­ager Paddy Driver ad­mit­ted most of the 18 CD cen­tres in Tararua were not com­pli­ant.

Stu­art said land­lords who did noth­ing would prob­a­bly have their build­ings de­mol­ished by the Govern­ment who would send them a bill.

When asked why build­ings were not com­pli­ant when they had with­stood the Napier 1931, Dan­nevirke 1990 and Kaik­oura earth­quakes, he said if the Hiko­rangi Trench moved it would make Napier look “like a walk in the park”.

He de­fended the reg­u­la­tions re­quir­ing strength­en­ing of brick build­ings in par­tic­u­lar, say­ing Christchurch’s ex­pe­ri­ence em­pha­sised their weak­ness.

One so­lu­tion to help land­lords, he said, could be to re­model their two-storeyed prop­er­ties to ac­com­mo­date rental flats on the sec­ond floor, help­ing re­pop­u­late the town cen­tres. He said it had be­gun in Blen­heim and Alas­tair Scott added there was an ex­am­ple in Master­ton.

The meet­ing was a busy one and the two MPs were grate­ful for the is­sues raised some of which they had also heard at Waipuku­rau. They would take the is­sues back to Cau­cus.

Tararua Dis­trict Coun­cil CEO Blair King tells Stu­art Smith (Op­po­si­tion spokesman for Civil De­fence, Earth­quake Com­mis­sion and Viti­cul­ture) and lo­cal MP Alas­tair Scott reg­u­la­tions re­lated to build­ing strength­en­ing do not suit ru­ral towns.

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