Earthquake survivor says Wellington must cordon off unsafe sites

6:39 pm on 31 January 2017

A woman crushed by a falling building in the Christchurch earthquake is warning the Wellington City Council to cordon off the capital's four red-stickered buildings.

Two of them, the Toomath's Buildings and the Albemarle Hotel, have warnings not to approach, but no cordons.

People walk and drive past regularly, especially during peak times.

Ann Brower was badly injured when a red-stickered Christchurch building fell on a bus she was on in the February 2011 earthquake.

It killed all the passengers, except herself and one other who was paralysed.

Albemarle Hotel

The Albemarle Hotel. Photo: RNZ / Max Towle

She said Wellington's council had a responsibility to protect people near dangerous buildings.

"Christchurch made some serious mistakes in getting back to business as usual too quickly after September [2010 earthquake].

"The city council has much more of a duty of care to the passers-by than to the occupants of the building. I would think it's a fairly severe dereliction of duty to not close off the street if they know the building to be dangerous, especially after Christchurch."

Council infrastructure spokesperson Iona Pannett said the red-stickered buildings were safe. The warnings only meant strengthening was not done before a council-allocated deadline.

Upgrades were complicated and expensive. The four buildings were heritage-classified. The owners needed support from Government and the council to do the strengthening, she said.

"People... want to do business in them, they want to live in them.

Some building owners were "dragging their feet", but some faced "affordability issues", Ms Pannett said.

A shopkeeper, who runs a fishing store opposite the Toomath's Buildings, said it was an eyesore and a disaster waiting to happen.

"Does someone have to be injured before they do something about it?"

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