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Wind warning ... Gore Aquatic Centre manager Martin Mackereth holds the sign advising patrons need to use another entrance to the event centre when weather conditions are windy but when wind or gusts reach 100km/h the second notice will be attached to the door advising the centre is not open. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

High winds have the potential to close the MLT Event Centre after an engineer’s report found the roof needs strengthening.

The report was completed by WSP Opus in December.

The structural assessment was commissioned after council staff noticed a deterioration in cracks in the bleacher support of the tiered seating area in the stadium.

In a report tabled at the Gore District Council operations committee meeting on Tuesday, Gore Aquatic Centre manager Martin Mackereth said the event centre had introduced a new procedure to be followed in the event of high winds.

“As per the recommendations of WSP Opus, if winds or gusts reach 100kmh, the MLT Event Centre is to be cleared and closed until such time the winds lower to under 100kmh,” Mr Mackereth said.

Since this procedure had been in place, the MLT Event Centre had been closed once – on Saturday, January 5, when gusts reached 106kmh.

“With no bookings or customers coming in on the day, this did not affect the public,” Mr Mackereth said.

MetService meteorologist Peter Little said the definition of a gale was a wind speed of 63kmh.

“That is a sustained 10-minute wind speed,” Mr Little said.

District council general manager of infrastructure Ramesh Sharma said there was no immediate concern the roof would cave in.

“The stadium has been here for 10 years and tolerated Southland weather challenges,” Mr Sharma said.

“However, we are taking a very cautious approach and following the recommendations that were put forward in the report from engineering consultants WSP Opus.

“The safety of the staff and the public is paramount.”

Resource consent was granted to the Gore Multisports Centre Charitable Trust to build the stadium in 2008 and it was opened in 2009 but building codes in New Zealand had been continuously evolving and improving.

“From my memory, these changes were done after 2012, when a technical investigation into the collapse of the Stadium Southland roof was completed,” Mr Sharma said.

Snow caused the collapse of the Stadium Southland roof in 2010.

The event centre roof lacked lateral support from the trusses to the purlins and the council had sought advice on how to strengthen it.

“We are waiting for the detailed design work to attach lateral supports from the trusses to the purlins .. Drawings from the engineers will provide the detail as to how and where this needs to be done.

“[This] will take us over compliance with the new code for seismic and wind loadings.”

In Tuesday’s meeting, council chief executive Steve Parry said the plan to empty the building when 100kmh winds were forecast was not a long-term solution.

“Hopefully, the protocol of vacating the building .. will only be with us for no more than 12 months,” Mr Parry said.

Fortunately, the report had identified no other problems.

“[This] gives us a lot of confidence .. bearing in mind the council had no involvement in the design and inherited the building just prior to its opening.”

The centre’s structural engineer was Invercargill engineer Tony Major, who also worked on Stadium Southland.

In August, the council closed the concrete tiered seating at the MLT Event Centre over concerns about its structural integrity.

“The seating area is closed for the general public, as a precautionary measure until the strengthening of the bleacher support is completed,” Mr Sharma said.

“The installation of the strengthening frames is in progress.

“The tiered seating area will be open soon for the general public.”