|Not a member? Sign up now!|
Invercargill City Council is to organize a national forum on earthquake prone buildings as councils around New Zealand deal with issues and try to find solutions to the problems highlighted by the Christchurch earthquakes.
Director of Environmental and Planning Services, Pamela Gare said that Council's Education Officer Judith Christie would organize the forum in conjunction with the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM).
Councils around the country were also waiting for the recommendations from the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of inquiry which would report on the causes of building failure as a result of the earthquakes as well as the legal and best-practice requirements for buildings in New Zealand Central Business Districts.
Councils would work through the recommendations in-depth, she said.
Mrs Gare said that in Invercargill Council officers had undertaken external visual assessments of buildings in the Invercargill city centre. This had resulted in Council sending letters to 200 building owners recommending them to have their buildings checked by a structural engineer.
Council has asked that building owners provide the Council with copies of these reports for its files but so far only seven reports have been provided.
I urge building owners to have their buildings professionally assessed and to send copies of their reports through to Council's Building Division. It will help Council put together a clearer picture of the situation in Invercargill's central business district and provide important material on which to base future decisions.
Mrs Gare assured building owners that she would do everything within her power to ensure that the reports provided to Council would be treated as confidential. This was in accordance with provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act that information could be withheld if it: Would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information; And also where it would be likely to prejudice the supply of similar information, or information from the same source, and it is in the public interest that such information should continue to be supplied.
We want building owners to be confident that if they supply the information to us for the good of our community that it will be kept confidential. It is not fair, or sensible to punish those people who are doing the right thing by voluntarily sharing their confidential information with Council, she said.
Mrs Gare also stressed that while a building might appear to have cracks or other issues, it did not mean it was earthquake prone it might be as a result of lack of maintenance or other factors.
It is important that we are careful and thorough as we work through these complex issues, she said.
Council would be reviewing its Earthquake Prone Buildings Policy after receiving guidance from the Department of Building and Housing and the recommendations from the Royal Commission.
When drafted, the policy would be available for public consultation, she said.