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Council before Select Committe on Building Amendment Bill

Thursday 26 June, 2014

Council appears before Select Committe in support of submission on Building Amendment Bill

Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Councillor Ali Jones appeared before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee this afternoon in support of the Council’s submission on the Building (Earthquake-prone) Amendment Act.

The Mayor says this amendment legislation is of particular importance to the Canterbury region to ensure that the events of theCanterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, and their effect on buildings, are never repeated anywhere else in New Zealand.

“Ali and I felt strongly about speaking to the Council’s written submission with only one thought in mind - that we learn the lessons of what happened in our city,” she says.

“When people die there is nothing we can do to bring them back. Our commitment to lessons learned is to ensure that no one else in the future suffers or dies in the way people did here and that other families are not left to grieve for the senseless waste of a life not fully lived.”

Councillor Jones and the Mayor only spoke to this aspect of the submission, as Council staff answered questions on the technical issues.

The Council’s submission acknowledged that the Bill is designed to improve the system of managing earthquake-prone buildings in New Zealand, but it urged the Select Committee to give further consideration to the Royal Commission recommendation on unreinforced masonry buildings (URM) and their hazardous features.

“Addressing hazardous features of buildings needs to happen in a short timeframe and will achieve maximum benefit, in terms of protection, against the dollars spent,” says the Mayor.

“We know from experience that there are local variations and risks which really justify a risk-based approach being taken.”

The Mayor says the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission considered the remediation or strengthening of URM buildings and hazardous features of these buildings to be a priority. While supportive of the Bill, the Mayor and Councillor Jones believe further changes can be made to improve the Bill and better meet the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

“I am asking the Select Committee to adopt the Commission’s recommendation, but if you look at images following the earthquakes you have to ask yourself, for the most seismically vulnerable areas in New Zealand, does that even go far enough?”

The Mayor and Councillor Jones finished their oral submission with a simple but powerful message.

“Let’s learn the lessons so the families of those who died needlessly on 22 February 2011 can at least say they did not die in vain.”

Council’s key points on the Bill:
• URMs and buildings with hazardous features must be included as Priority Buildings in the primary legislation and the legislation must require strengthening of hazardous features to 50% National Building Standard (NBS)
• Territorial Authorities must be able to recover the cost of seismic assessments and associated work
• Better enforcement powers and cost recovery tools are required for Territorial Authorities when an owner does not comply with a seismic work notice
• Strengthening of buildings and access for people with disabilities and means of escape from fire upgrading should both be achieved where possible.

Please note attached are:
• A copy of the oral submission by the Mayor and Councillor Jones
• A copy of the Council’s written submission.



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