Government earthquake strengthening proposals have worried Clutha District councillors.
The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment proposals include making all non-residential and multi-unit, multi-storey residential buildings have a seismic capacity assessment within five years of the changes taking effect, and for this information to be made publicly available on a register.
All earthquake-prone buildings would have to be strengthened, or demolished within 15 years of the changes taking effect.
An earthquake-prone building is one that is likely to collapse in a moderate earthquake or which is less than 33 per cent of the building standard.
At the regulatory service committee meeting last Thursday, Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the proposals could be "quite catastrophic" for the district.
"I'm really scared that the effect could be detrimental in our wee communities. I'm really scared that in order to save our wee towns we will need to destroy them."
Towns like Lawrence would struggle, he said.
"The quintessential beauty of the town is the historical buildings. Leases are that low that they can't sustain what's being intended."
While they had to be sensitive to Christchurch, a realistic approach had to be taken.
Lawrence-Tuapeka councillor Geoff Blackmore said he was also concerned about the risk to the district's small towns.
"It is a big issue for small towns, it is very important to our business community what happens here."
Bruce ward councillor Gaynor Finch said it was "vitally important" for the council to make a submission.
"There have got to be some practicalities in there to keep our communities going, to keep our businesses viable."
Chief executive Charles Hakkaart said some of the numbers were "frightening".
Clutha had more commercial property in its rural area than its urban area because buildings like woolsheds were classed as commercial.
"It would have to have half of Australia's building industry here to do it in the time frame they want," he said. "It's a real concern as you look at the numbers and as you think about what that might mean as a province."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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