Groups forced out of quake-prone centre

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 13:00 26/07/2013

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The 18 organisations that use the Community Groups Centre in Nelson are temporarily homeless after the building's closure due to earthquake damage.

A no-entry notice on the building at 50 Halifax St says: "Canterbury Community Trust have specified no access is allowed into this building because of earthquake damage. Do not enter building under any circumstances."

The premises have been shut since the weekend earthquakes and a meeting was held at the Nelson City Council yesterday of representatives from the groups who were told they must wait for the outcome of an engineer's assessment.

Organisations listed as using the centre are: Volunteer Nelson and Community Support Service; Alzheimers Society Nelson, ME/CFS Nelson, Brain Injury Association, Nelson Tasman Housing Trust, Q-Youth, Epilepsy Nelson Marlborough Branch, Nelson Tasman Youth Workers Collective, Lifeline Nelson, Nelson Asthma Society, Nelson Tasman Kindergartens, HYPE-GS, Parent to Parent and Altogether Autism, Post Natal Depression Support Network, Problem Gambling Services, Supporting Families in Mental Illness Nelson, Stroke Foundation, and Workplace Support.

All the organisations were continuing to work, but not from the building, said Deanna Kilpatrick, vice-chairwoman of the tenants group that manages the building.

They were working out of homes, cafes and alternative office space that had been offered, she said.

"It's disruptive but we do appreciate that the Canterbury Community Trust is being a responsible landlord and putting our safety first."

Clients could contact their organisation through phone or cellphone and should be persistent, she said.

The building, built in the 50s, was already listed as earthquake-prone. Because of the quakes at the weekend, as a precautionary measure the trust had chosen to close the building temporarily and have another engineer's report done, she said.

The engineer inspected the building yesterday and would report to the trust which would decide what to do. The groups expected to hear back by the middle of next week, she said.

"They may just leave the building closed pending strengthening work or based on the engineer's report they may reopen."

No visible signs of damage were evident following the weekend quakes, she said.

Alzheimers Society manager Heather Lackner said they did not yet know whether they would be able to return to the building or would need to find a new office.

The society had three staff who used the building regularly and meetings were held there, including for support groups.

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"There are a huge number of people who rely on us. We need to be accessible," she said.

The society was still able to continue its work, with staff working from home and the phone diverted.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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