One Year hurry up for Cuba Street

What’s happened with earthquake strengthening our beloved fragile heritage buildings in Cuba St? EyeoftheFish asks – and gets an answer

This article is cross-posted with permission from EyeoftheFish.

It’s taken over 5 years since the first Canterbury quake for some actual real action to be taken on strengthening, and not before time. Now that the laws allow for this to happen, the Council has stepped in and said: Strengthen those weak and easily remedied bits first. Don’t sweat the big stuff right now – work on those floppy high walls of brick masonry and secure them for starters.

“Do we have many of them?”

“Hell yeah!”

There are 40 buildings in Cuba St alone on the current list. Plenty more on other streets too. Rather than just look at what buildings are listed as EQP buildings, I want to bring something else to your attention first. This list: List of Earthquakes in NZ.

Have a look. Start at the bottom, the most recent, and scan upwards, looking for the name Wellington. Where is it?
I find it only twice: Once in 1961, and before that, 1846. Oh, and before that, about 1460. Basically, Wellington doesn’t appear to have earthquakes directly centred here, in comparison to everywhere else around. We feel their quakes, but don’t get them ourselves. Could that be because we are… stuck?

Comment from  reader Andy Foster  27 – 01 – 17

Hi Levi – can I correct you about what has been done in Wellington. First point is that absolutely no question Wellington City is way ahead of any other part of the country in terms of resilience action. That includes infrastructure, buildings, lifelines planning and community training. We are not yet a resilient city but day by day we are becoming one.
In terms of buildings Wellington City completed the IEP assessment process (assessed all the approx 5500 potentially at risk buildings) in 2015. Most other councils appear to have barely started – in fact I recall a presentation from an independent source (contracted by Government) in 2012 – at which point Wellington City had done as many assessments as every other Council in the country – put together.
What about buildings actually being strengthened ?
These figures are from an article I wrote in the Dom Post last May – we have some 800 heritage listed buildings/those in heritage areas. Of those only 135 were considered EQP at that time. Between 2012 and 2015 34 heritage listed buildings had come off the EQP list having been strengthened. I calculated at the time that another 58 of those 135 were at some stage in the process (from early investigation often supported by Council’s Built Heritage Fund) to strengthening having been completed and merely awaiting certificates of compliance.
At that point we had 671 buildings on the EQP list – so the vast majority of heritage buildings are not EQP and the majority of EQP buildings are not heritage listed. Just speaking to relevant staff I will get some updated numbers but the response was that a further considerable reduction has occurred since my article.It sounds like we are now down below 600 with another 50 odd awaiting compliance certificates or with physical work being done right now.

Thank you also for your ongoing posts – it is hard work and a bit sad that not more people read and respond. On the other hand the quality of responses is a whole lot higher than on some other sites !
Kind regards

Andy Foster
Urban Development Leader WCC

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