Councils fear ghost towns

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD AND AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013

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South Canterbury's smaller councils fear the costs of the Government's proposed regulations on earthquake-prone buildings could turn provincial centres into "ghost towns".

Yesterday, Dunedin City Mayor David Cull released a report tabling the potential costs of the proposed policy for each of the 10 councils in the lower South Island.

According to the report, the Waimate district could face $26 million in costs to strengthen up to 140 buildings requiring assessment, while the potential assessment costs would be in the region of $1.4m.

Waimate District Mayor John Coles said it would be devastating if the proposals came into law.

"It is just another imposition being forced on to local authorities, who are trying to keep rate rises to a minimum."

Mr Coles said the proposals put forward by government would place an unbearable burden on small towns such as Waimate.

"It would be sad if the buildings become vacant because of the cost to building owners of bringing them up to code."

He said building owners were already facing increased insurance costs, and costs for complying with banking requirements when seeking finance.

"I encourage individuals and groups to submit to government on the proposals which could, if they are implemented, turn Waimate and other provincial towns into ghost towns."

According to the same report, strengthening up to 130 buildings in the Mackenzie District could cost some $29m, while the cost of having the buildings assessed is projected at around $700,000.

Mackenzie District Mayor Claire Barlow said the costs were "potentially onerous", but her staff needed to take a closer look at the figures. "The costs on a number of small businesses could be very burdensome; many of them are struggling already," she said.

"We hope the Government listens to some of the smaller councils' concerns."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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