Westport Flood Recovery

31 August 2021

Buller District Council has postponed plans to develop worker accommodation in Westport due to Covid restrictions.

The council this week advised Smiths Cranes it cannot establish a worker accommodation village in Westport at this time due to travel restrictions under Covid Alert Level 3.

Flood Recovery manager Bob Dickson says the council was planning to reuse the worker accommodation Smiths Cranes established in Kaikōura. These portable cabins would have been used to house the 150 construction workers which were expected to arrive in the district to help with the rebuilding effort.

But people will not be able to travel into the district under Covid Alert Level 3 rules.

Another factor in the decision not being able to proceed at this point is the exemption allowing some work to be carried out under Alert Level 4, Mr Dickson says.

“We are not certain when the restrictions may ease. We also have upwards of 70 local trades people busy carrying out restoration work under the recently granted Level 4 exemption order.”

“It is an unforeseen situation and it was only fair that we notify Smiths as early as reasonably possible that our needs may be changing.”

He says Buller District Council may re-enter discussions around accessing some or all of the worker cabins from Smiths Cranes at a later date.

“We will make that call once we have a better picture of what will be needed in Westport in Level 2 and beyond.”

Mr Dickson says the recovery team is currently working to accurately identify the town’s future accommodation needs. Multiple factors need to be considered, including the pace at which the Temporary Accommodation Service can relocate displaced people, the current levels of building work being undertaken by local tradespeople and the implications of any future constraints due to Covid.

“We thank Smiths Cranes for their willingness to help. We very much appreciate the effort they took to enable early conversations to begin around the conceptual size and scale of a village.”