WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Earthquake risk assessment goes ahead


Cecily McNeill
3 December 2011

Archbishop John Dew has written to all parishes urging priests and lay pastoral leaders to inform parishioners of the safety of parish buildings in the wake of new post-Canterbury earthquake standards.

The archdiocese set up Project Borgia (after St Francis Borgia, the patron saint of protection against quakes) earlier this year to look at buildings which are owned by parishes in light of the new codes.

In a letter dated November 25 Archbishop John said it was ‘imperative’ that, if a building had been determined to be potentially unsafe, the parishioners be informed of the risk.

The letter encourages parish administrators to work with school boards of trustees to find alternative solutions for school use of any parish building deemed unsafe.

‘Further communications will be sent to you in the New Year. I ask that you keep your communities as well informed as possible and ask for your prayerful support. These issues will impact on us all and we will find paths forward together.’

Archbishop John said the focus group which was established earlier in the year has as its major task to ensure that Sunday Mass is available along with ‘the safety of our people’.

In a November 17 memo Archbishop John said all the necessary information about almost 500 buildings had now been collected for the insurers and assessments were proceeding.

Buildings needing earthquake assessment were now being prioritised. Some buildings will be assessed within eight months, but other assessments will be made within a three-year period as engineering resources allow.

Describing Project Borgia as a ‘massive data gathering exercise’, Archbishop John said the three stages of the project did not make a building safer. But the project does provide data for the renewal of insurances on parish property next year.

Premiums are expected to rise ‘substantially’ for natural disaster cover on all buildings, he said.