Community halls may reopen soon
Six community facilities closed because they fall significantly below the current building code may soon be re-opened.
Christchurch City councillors have voted to exempt the Duvauchelle Hall, the Okains Bay Hall, the Little Akaloa Community Hall, the Pigeon Bay Community Hall, the Harewood Community Hall and the Risingholme workshop building from the council's current policy on the closure of earthquake prone buildings.
That policy, implemented in the immediate aftermath of the quakes, states that any council-owned building assessed at less than 34 per cent of New Building Standard is unsafe to occupy and should be closed.
But council engineers now believe some exemptions can be made, particularly in the case of light-weight timber buildings.
The buildings will have to get a current Warrant of Fitness before they can re-open.
Council community, recreation and culture committee chairman Cr Yani Johanson said the council needed to weight up the harm that was being done by having such buildings closed with the risk of having them open.
"This is about trying to restore the quality of life people have in the city,'' Johanson said.
Cr Claudia Reid said none of the six buildings the council was considering exempting from the policy had suffered any significant damage in the quakes and she believed it was safe to re-open them.
"These buildings have stood up - they have stood up to every earthquake that has been thrown at them,'' said Reid.
"Recovery is an ever-changing landscape ... and what we have come to understand is the building standard ... does not necessarily apply to the true safety of the building."
Cr Sue Wells said she genuinely thought it was right to re-open the buildings. "If I thought there was any risk, I wouldn't go there.''
Mayor Bob Parker said he was prepared to make specific exceptions where there was sound engineering advice that they were safe. "These communities need these buildings,'' he said.
But Cr Tim Carter said he believed the council should set an example to other building owners and stick to its policy of not occupying buildings that were classed as earthquake prone.
"I know it is inconvenient having buildings closed to the community ...but the most important thing is safety,'' Carter said. "I'm really opposed to opening a building that is 6% against NBS.
"We should just be getting on and fixing these buildings.''