Franz Josef township wants $1.2 million per ratepayer to … move

Leaving aside the argument as to exactly why they built a town on a known fault in the first place, let’s look at the ridiculous price of moving the town.

A report has found moving the Franz Josef township away from a major fault line would cost $300 million.

The tourist town, which sits on the Alpine Fault and next to the flood-prone Waiho River, is home to 221 ratepayers, but gets over half a million visitors a year.

A report commissioned by the West Coast Regional Council has analysed three options for how the town could deal with the risks of the fault line and the river.

The other two options, moving some assets away from the fault line or undertaking other flood protection measures, would cost around $60 million.

The regional council’s chief executive, Mike Meehan, said they include shifting the township about 10km to Lake Mapourika, moving some assets away from the fault line or undertaking other flood protection measures.

“We’ve got a river that is in aggradation phase, which is building up by a couple of hundred millimetres every year and we have also got the Alpine Fault which runs straight through the middle of town … so doing nothing, we believe, isn’t an option,” he said.

Mike Meehan said it would begin consulting on the options in November.

“There will be quite mixed views on it, like anything. I think about opportunities for the town, it’s definitely an opportunity to look at a much more resilient town.”

Moving the town 10km from a fault line is only somewhat effective if there is an earthquake.  Ask the people in Seddon how being 10km from the fault line has worked out for them compared to being on top of one.

The people that live there clearly don’t want to live anywhere else, and they are quite comfortable living on a major fault.  If they weren’t, the place would be a ghost town by now.

None of this is possible without major borrowing and the central taxpayer stepping in with their well-abused wallet full of taxpayer cash in the first place.

If you believe the Herald, it’s even more

Moving the town to a completely new site to the north, near Lake Mapourika, could cost between anywhere between $570m to more than $610m based on a current cost-benefit assessment in the report by consultants Tonkin and Taylor.

However, abandoning the current town site is the least preferred.

Exactly.  Nobody wants to leave.   So just shore up the river, and accept you’re living in an area that is subject to extreme flooding and earthquakes.  Prepare for them to happen and prepare to repair things when they are damaged.

If Engineers estimate it at $610m at today’s cost, you can bet your bottom tax dollar the final cost would be between 1 and 1.5 billion.


– RNZ, NZ Herald

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