Earthquake strengthening work to begin

Work on the Civic Centre building is likely to begin in the second quarter of 2018.

Three million dollars is the estimated cost for earthquake strengthening work which is to take place on the Whakatane District Council Civic Centre in 2018. 

The engineering work will take the building from a detailed seismic assessment rating of 37 per cent to 100 per cent of the strength of a new building, based on the NZ building code's importance level classification for structures which are used for emergency response purposes. 

The Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act also requires the Council to identify an alternate Emergency Operations Centre, should that be needed, and staff are currently investigating alternative locations. 

The Council's Projects and Services Committee considered a range of options for the building at its meeting last week, with total potential project costs ranging from $2.4 million to achieve a lesser level of seismic strength to $14.5-19 million for a new building with ground improvement and specialised foundations. 

About $2.1 million has been set aside for the work in the Council's Long Term Plan and council elected members have adopted a recommendation a further $900,000 be added to the 2018/19 budget to cover the additional cost required. 

Reporting to the committee, community services general manager Mike Naude says the planned strengthening will address the life safety risk represented by a major earthquake with a 2500-year return period. Work on the building is likely to begin in the second quarter of 2018. 

Mike says seismic assessment processes are also underway on other Council-owned buildings and priority public access routes. 

Five other buildings are currently under review to determine what earthquake strengthening may be required. 

They include the Whakatane Airport Terminal, the Youth Centre building in Canning Place, the Rugby Park grandstand, the Whakatane War Memorial Hall and the Edgecumbe War Memorial Hall. 

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Act 2016 also requires the Council to assess the threat of falling masonry or collapsing structures and what this might represent to the public, or emergency response activities, on ‘transport routes of strategic importance'. 

Mike says work was underway, but it was unlikely that any routes would meet the definition set out in the Building Act.


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