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Councils should respond to their communities' priorities

LGNZ: Councils should respond to the priorities of their communities

7 December 2012

Local Government New Zealand agrees with the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission’s recommendation that councils should be able to adopt earthquake strengthening standards above the national minimum, where it is supported by their communities.

Under the current legislation councils can only enforce strengthening up to 34 per cent of the new building standard.

A number of local authorities, small and large, are already talking with building owners in their business precincts about earthquake strengthening.

Wellington City Council, for example, is working with building owners.

Wellington Mayor Celia-Wade Brown says: “Wellington City Council is leading considerable work on earthquake resilience. As well as strengthening public buildings and social housing, this includes working with building owners and banks on establishing a voluntary targetted rates scheme. This would allow building owners facing earthquake strengthening costs to take out a special loan to get their building strengthened.”

LGNZ has advocated for a simple change to the Ratings Act to allow such schemes to go ahead.

Releasing Volume 4 of the Commission’s Inquiry today, the Minister for Building and Construction, Hon Maurice Williamson, noted a key Commission recommendation was “[making] information as to whether a building is above or below the earthquake-prone building threshold easily available to the public.”

Auckland Council is already leading a body of work to collate data on earthquake-prone buildings.

Auckland Council Building Control Manager, Ian McCormick, says: “As part of its building assessment work, Auckland Council, together with Wellington City Council and LGNZ, is developing a database to allow consistent recording of data on earthquake-prone buildings across the country.”

It was announced the Government’s response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations is being put out for public consultation.

“This is a good opportunity for local communities to have their say on what they think is important when making decisions about earthquake strengthening of buildings” says LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule.

“We must make sure that the timelines which are adopted for completing earthquake strengthening work are based on the impact of an earthquake in a community and the priorities of that community.”

ENDS

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