Three papers presented to the Ōpōtiki District Council meeting on 5 September 2019, outlined the next key steps towards building compliance with national earthquake legislation.
Two of the papers were largely administrative. One was the non-controversial repeal of the Ōpōtiki District Council Earthquake-prone Buildings 2006 policy. This policy is no longer required under recent amendments to the Building Act 2004. A new policy will be required in the future once Council has investigated the number and nature of 'priority' earthquake prone buildings as required under the Act.
Another paper that did not generate a significant amount of discussion was the review of the Ōpōtiki District Council Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy. Once again, the review was required under the Building Act and the paper recommends amendments to the existing policy. These changes will go through a formal public consultation process in the coming weeks.
Council's Planning and Regulatory Group Manager, Gerard McCormack, said that the paper that generated the most discussion was the paper providing an update to Council on 'priority buildings', important thoroughfare streets and the possible implications in an earthquake.
"At the previous Council meeting we discussed the implications of the Earthquake-Prone Buildings Amendment and what it means for Ōpōtiki. The legislation sets timeframes for identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings and doing seismic work on them. All of the Ōpōtiki District has been categorised as a high seismic risk area so our timeframes are shorter than for other areas of the country," Mr McCormack said.
The legislation also defines 'priority buildings'. These are buildings in high and medium seismic risk areas that are considered to present a higher risk to life or other property because of their construction, type, use or location.
"This paper was a chance to unpack this a little further and work out what it means for buildings in the Ōpōtiki district.
"Some of these are easy to identify; buildings like hospitals and schools are priority buildings because they are likely to be needed in an emergency or regularly occupied by more than 20 people.
"Other buildings require us to look a little bit deeper. For example, the legislation tells us that unreinforced masonry buildings are considered a higher risk to life where they could fall in an earthquake onto either frequently-used thoroughfares or roadways that we'll need in a response to an emergency.
"We looked into transport routes of strategic importance and didn't identify any buildings that, if they were to collapse, would impede emergency vehicles. This is mostly because Ōpōtiki town centre forms a grid so there are alternative routes in an emergency.
"But investigating the key thoroughfare areas in town, there were some areas that were a combination of high-use and unreinforced masonry buildings.
"There are approximately 1200 vehicles per day down Church Street and even more when you add surrounding areas. Vehicle and pedestrian use of this area and the number of unreinforced masonry buildings means we have identified four proposed thoroughfares A, B, C and D [see attached map and list] that we want to speak to the community about," Mr McCormack said.
Councillors agreed to consult the community on the four areas and whether all or some should be given priority and whether there are other thoroughfares that should also be considered.
"I strongly encourage people to submit their thoughts and views on this process through the Council's website," Mr McCormack said.
View the full Statement of Proposal for Earthquake-prone buildings consultation on thoroughfares.
View the full Statement of Proposal for Dangerous and Insanitary Buildings Policy 2019.
View details of our Town Centre Revitalisation Project.