Earthquake strengthening could cost town millions

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Most of the buildings in Thames St could cost millions of dollars to be earthquake-strengthened if assessments show they are under the 34 per cent standard.

Gary Kircher attended a committee hearing in Dunedin on Thursday along with Barry Hope and Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Peter Garvan to see how Oamaru would be affected.

They were part of a group of 13 other southern mayors and presented submissions on the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment) to local government and the select committee.

Mr Kircher was happy with how the meeting went, but now it was wait-and-see time for shop owners, the council and the historic precinct, he said.

“We are happy with the submissions we gave, but now it’s up to the committee to give their verdict and hopefully Oamaru won’t be too badly affected.”

He acknowledged the fact that at least one-third of the Thames St buildings would require some work, while some had already been worked on.

“Out of the 150 or so buildings on Thames St, we estimate that around one-third of them will need either a touch up or a rebuild,” he said.

They have been given five years to complete the assessment, a time frame Mr Kircher was unsure about.

“I’m not sure whether that will be long enough as they will need a lot of workers to undergo the checks because there are a lot of old buildings in Oamaru and Dunedin,” he said.

“I’d love to hear something by the end of the year. It just depends if we have new council.”

Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Peter Garvan said he was confident the 15 buildings owned by the trust in the Tyne, Tees and Harbour St area would make the grade.

“I’m reasonably confident they will be fine. It’s just the privately-owned buildings in the area which I’m not sure about. Some of them could be demolished if owners can’t afford the upgrades and this could leave holes in the streetscape.

“We are trying to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

The vast majority of buildings in Oamaru will be checked, although ones constructed after 2005 are exempt.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY