A martyr to the law

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:08 15/11/2012
All Saints Church
WARWICK SMITH/ FAIRFAX NZ

NO JOKE: All Saints Church is closing on April 1 as it is prone to earthquake damage.

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OPINION: It may seem like an April Fool's Day joke, but in this case nobody's laughing.

Palmerston North's beautiful 100-year-old All Saints Church will have to close its doors from April 1 next year.

The reason? After an inspection by the city council, the brick building was found to be at 3 per cent of the building code when it comes to structural integrity. To get the tick and be removed from an earthquake-prone buildings list it has to get to 33 per cent.

And to get to that point means getting a huge amount of money. Some estimates are as high as $4 million, money that the church and the community simply do not have.

Since the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and last year, councils around the country have been reassessing their own backyards and the potential risks out there.

It has been a huge and costly exercise and one that has gathered plenty of controversy.

On one side it makes sense that large buildings, especially, are safe to live, work, pray and gather in. But on the flipside it could be argued that getting some buildings to that point defeats the point of even having them.

How far is too far? When does mitigating real risk cross the line and become overkill?

There are hundreds of buildings in Palmerston North and towns and cities across New Zealand that won't make code. They all face the dilemma of finding a way to get those buildings up to scratch or shutting them down.

The All Saints Church isn't the only older building that is in this situation. It is only the start of things to come.

The law may be the law, but that doesn't always make it right. Common sense needs to prevail. Otherwise we'll live in a city where some of the most elegant and beloved buildings will become nothing more than pretty ornaments that you can look at, but not go near.

It's easy to think "it won't happen to me". But is leaving valuable items in your car really worth the risk? Probably not.

Palmerston North police have been dealing with a large spike in the number of thefts reported from cars.

It takes only a couple of seconds to take out or hide expensive items such as phones or computers, so why take the risk?

If you don't take those precautions you are a clear target and it may be only a matter of time until you fall victim to thieves who have the time, the opportunity and who can be stealing to order. A big part of the solution is in your hands.

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- Manawatu Standard

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