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Building and construction minister Maurice Williamson has laid blame on Christchurch city council for the sign-off of the ill-fated CTV building.
"The Crown’s not a player in any of this. The whole of the consenting, the inspections and the sign off take place at local authority level," he says..
"Christchurch city council did the consenting and signed off on that building."
Christchurch mayor Bob Parker has acknowledged the council has responsibility for issuing consents, but says the CTV building was approved almost three decades ago.
“It is difficult to ascribe a liability today to an organisation which is vastly different to the one which issued a consent effectively three decades ago.
“It was a different council back then. A different sized council – everything has changed since then – different staff, different processes, different systems,” he told NBR ONLINE.
Mr Williamson says he has passed today’s final report from the Canterbury earthquakes royal commission to the police and the Institute of Professional Engineers (IPENZ).
He has asked his officials to investigate what possible legal avenues are open to the government to hold people to account.
It is up to IPENZ to determine the future of any industry registrations as a result of the report’s findings.
Mr Parker says while Christchurch is still mourning the loss of the 185 people who died, it is a miracle more people were not killed.
“And that’s probably says a lot about the more recent buildings and the standards we’ve applied.”
The report contains 83 recommendations and concentrates on the collapse of the CTV building.
It says the engineering design of the CTV building was deficient in a number of respects.
While there were elements of the applicable code that were confusing, a building permit should not have been issued for the building as designed.
It also says there were a number of inadequacies in its construction.
Industry was different
Mr Parker says the building industry was different in 1986, when the CTV building was built.
“Now our engineering systems, engineering standards, our understandings are vastly different, our processes in council are vastly different.
"In our case, we’ve been honed by a further two years' direct exposure to seismic violence of an unprecedented level in New Zealand.”
He expects to see changes to the Resource Management Act and building processes, checks and balances as a result of the royal commission’s report.
He is confident Christchurch city and other metropolitan councils already have the processes and systems in place to ensure the buildings which are being constructed meet the engineering standards of today.
Overall, the report found New Zealand was very well served by those who participated in the building safety evaluation operations in Canterbury, but it does not mean the government should not consider making improvements to the system.
Mr Williamson is waiting on a report into other buildings nationwide which were built around the same time as CTV.
He says there is a list of 379 buildings that have been identified.
Those on the list have similar construction materials and techniques to the CTV building. They include unreinforced masonry, an asymmetric shear wall and non-ductile columns.
And until the report, which was due out this month, is released early next year, he will not be revealing the identified buildings.
“Those buildings are no less safe than they were on February 21. Just because they’ve got non-ductile concrete does not make them a risk. If they are found to be at risk, obviously action would be taken.
“You could red sticker the building and issue a not-to-occupy notice if that was the case.”
He says it was a difficult process to identify the buildings because local authority databases are “very poor”.