Seismically stronger

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The Waimakariri district is ‘‘seismically’’ stronger, but there is still work to do, six years on from the first Canterbury earthquake.
Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers says the district has made a lot of progress in the rebuild and strengthening of buildings in the Rangiora and Kaiapoi town centres, but there is more strengthening work to be completed and growth is continuing.
‘‘We can look at our towns and say that because of the earthquake rebuilding and strengthening by building owners, we now have two of the strongest towns seismically in the country. A town would have to be completely new to be stronger.’’
He was reflecting on the sixth anniversary of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake which struck on September 4, 2010, the first of more than 17,700 quakes and counting to shake the region. The quake devastated Kaiapoi and disrupted the lives of thousands of people across the region.
‘‘A huge amount has happened and it’s had a huge impact on our part of Canterbury and to an extent people have divided their lives to ‘before and after that earthquake’ – such has been its impact on individuals, families and communities.’’
Mr Ayers says the council has tried to put people first from day one and to rebuild the infrastructure of the town centres and ‘‘our communities stronger’’.
‘‘Since the day of the earthquake, the council has worked very hard to enable our communities and our families to be a better shape to survive another disaster of this or greater magnitude. This greater resilience is not only about infrastructure. It’s also about our town centres, about community cohesion and the financial position of the council.’’
Mr Ayers says the council has managed its borrowing to fund the rebuild ‘‘to smooth the impact’’ across 25 years and has kept the borrowing at a level to allow it to fund the recovery of another natural disaster of a similar scale in the future.
Despite the challenges, the council has maintained a AA credit rating.
‘‘There remains quite a lot to be done. There will be more building and strengthening in our town centres and there’s the whole regeneration (red zone) areas which will be a programme over many years.’’
He says the rebuild has created a need for extra council staff, but it has also brought in extra income. For example, ‘‘more people means more dogs, so there’s more dog fees’’ – and a third dog control ranger is now employed.