Council offices ‘safe in quake’

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Queenstown’s council building, once the focus of “serious concerns” about how it would hold up in an earthquake, is not on the list of 45 buildings determined to be earthquake prone.

City Hall last week announced it would be contacting building owners whose properties were deemed to be potentially earthquake-prone.

They have five weeks to provide evidence their building has either been strengthened to at least 34 per cent of the new building standard or that it’s outside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s profiling categories.

The council this week told Mountain Scene its own offices are not on the list.

Back in 2015, the Gorge Road building was determined to just meet minimum standards, at 35 per cent of the building code.

Council comms advisor Rebecca Pitts says it’s now at 53 per cent. That’s because the council commissioned a new report last year, to factor in the latest guidance from MBIE.

In 2015, then-planning and development boss Marc Breth-erton said the building was “not fit for purpose and, given its construction, there have been serious concerns expressed as to how the building would perform in an earthquake”.

The council won’t reveal which buildings are on the list. It wants to give owners time to supply evidence first.

Council building services manager Chris English says earthquakes in Kaikoura and Christchurch prompted the assessment, with “public safety is paramount”.

“We’ve now completed a high-level assessment of all building stock within the district and identified a list of potentially vulnerable buildings.”

But the number of potentially earthquake prone buildings was “comparably small” compared to other cities and towns.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz