Some of the quake damage discovered in CBD buildings is minor, but some of it is “more serious and will require repairs,” in the words of Mayor Justin Lester talking to reporters yesterday. But he’s not telling which buildings require repairs.
Last Friday was the deadline for the owners of 80 city buildings to complete new assessments of their safety, and to report the results to the council.
We can share the mayor’s relief that “we have not received any information that gives us concern about public safety.” But we cannot feel comfortable with the refusal to tell us which buildings are needing more work because of the “more serious” damage that’s been discovered.
According to a BusinessDesk report from yesterday’s media briefing, Mike Mendonca said that around a third of the 80 buildings sustained some damage “which is not surprising given the magnitude of the earthquake.”
However he then repeated the mayor’s message: None represent “a serious concern for us for public safety.”
According to BusinessDesk, some of the damage that has been uncovered has been related to floors or external cladding. In all cases, Mendonca says, repairs are planned or underway.
And why can’t we be told where repairs are needed?
The council says that under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, specific details of individual building reports remain confidential unless released by the building owner.
Which leaves uncertainty for everyone in the CBD. The council did the right thing when it published the list of 80 buildings that were being re-assessed. Its refusal to give specific information on the results is less than welcome.
The list includes landmark buildings including the Amora Hotel, the West Plaza Hotel and the InterContinental Hotel, David Jones, Bowen House, the Todd Building, Lambton House (whose occupants include the head office of Vodaphone), Plimmer Tower (which contains the Travelodge), even the huge Asteron Centre (which was briefly closed after the November quake) and the Treasury Building. Carparking buildings are on the list – including Marion Square, the James Smith carpark and the council’s basement car park in Harris Street next to the Central Library (which is also on the list.)
The council should be ensuring that owners of the buildings with “more serious” damage are instructed to release the details of what needs to be done, and when. Without this information, the city is left guessing and looking with suspicion at all the scaffolding and other visible work that’s being done all over town.
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