Hamilton quake prep bill could be in millions as assessments hurried
There's a bill of seismic proportions coming and no-one knows how far up the Richter scale it'll go.
Hamilton City Council has chosen 19 significant public buildings to speed through earthquake assessment, including Hamilton Zoo enclosures and Claudelands Events Centre.
Seismic worries have already closed Hamilton's central library and added to the woes of Founders Theatre.
Now councillors have approved $450,000 to start the next round of assessments, and repairs - if needed - can range from tens of thousands to millions.
* Hamilton Central Library closed three to six months
* Hamilton Central Library's $635,000 bill for earthquake strengthening
* Hamilton's Waterworld could be closed
* Hamilton's Founders Theatre earthquake prone, report reveals
Five zoo enclosure buildings make the list because of the dangerous animals inside - including rhino and cheetahs - and Claudelands Events Centre features because of key buildings required for responding to a disaster.
Other high-priority buildings include the Hamilton Park Cemetery crematorium and chapel, the Transport Centre, and stands and lighting towers at the Waikato Stadium.
The historic ArtsPost building is on the list and council has set aside $2.6m to strengthen it.
Aside from that, there's no dedicated budget and no clear idea of costs until reports come back.
"The variation of what upgrade costs might be is huge," programme manager of assets strategy Paul Gower said.
"It might be that it just requires some L brackets screwed into some walls and floors... So it might be a few tens of thousands of dollars on a big facility through to millions of dollars if something more substantial is required."
Council has more than 250 individual buildings in its portfolio, so a new seismic performance of buildings policy lays out the 19 priority ones and sets a shorter timeframe for assessments than Government legislation.
That's to keep up with community expectation after the Kaikoura and Canterbury quakes, Gower said.
The work has to be done, Councillor Leo Tooman said, because people have a right to feel safe, especially at work.
The cost all depends on the assessment results - it could be significant but until the reports come in it's like asking how long is a piece of string.
Councillor James Casson said there was no fund for any work needed and money was the million-dollar question.
"We're not going to know how much we're in the gun for until the reports come through," he said.
But he supports the assessments, saying the last thing he wants on his consciences is someone being hurt or killed in a building council has given the tick to.
Councillor Philip Yeung says the sooner council finds out the better it can plan.
"I'm just worried about some of the older buildings, maybe back in the 40s and 50s."
Seismic woes have already besieged two major council buildings: Hamilton Central Library and Founders Theatre.
Cracks found in the library's second floor prompted an earthquake assessment in 2016, according to information released under the Official Information Act.
The doors were shut in mid-November and councillors heard it would cost about $635,000 to take the library up to the required 34 per cent strength.
Founders Theatre first shut in February 2016 because of health and safety concerns but was confirmed as earthquake prone in July.
A report pegged it at 15-25 per cent of the new build standard, and pointed out problems including a lack of effective seismic bracing for the auditorium roof.
Councillors have approved $450,000 for assessments of council buildings, but a report warned more would be needed in the 2018/28 10-Year Plan.
Four detailed seismic assessments are under way or being peer reviewed now: ArtsPost, Waterworld, the Waiora Water treatment plant and Pukete Wastewater treatment plant.
Detailed assessments for complex buildings often cost more than $50,000, a council report said, whereas initial seismic assessments are generally $3000 to $4000.
Hamilton's significant buildings
* Gallagher Aquatic Centre
* Hamilton Park Cemetery - crematorium and chapel
* Transport Centre Building
* Pukete Waste Water Treatment Plant
* Waiora Water Treatment Plant
* Refuse Transfer Station - hazards building
* Claudelands Events Centre - arena, conference centre, exhibition halls, Holman Stand
* Te Rapa Sports Drome
* Duke Street Depot - dangerous goods store
* Municipal Building, including Caro wing
* Hamilton Gardens Pavilion
* Buildings at Hamilton Zoo acting as enclosures for: African Hunting Dog, Cheetah, Chimpanzee, Rhino, Tiger
* Central Library
* Waikato Museum
* Seddon Park buildings and light towers
* Waikato Stadium stands and lighting towers
* Founders Theatre
Source: Hamilton City Council Seismic Performance of Buildings Policy