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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Business people want answers

Business people want answers

Last updated 05:00 15/03/2011
A Christchurch business owner was shocked yesterday when he learnt his central-city building had been demolished.

Peter Scalia, who ran Fortuna Books from Shands Emporium on Hereford St, said neither he nor the building owner or leaseholder had been warned of Sunday's demolition.

"I want to know who authorised it and why we weren't contacted. If they can demolish the building I was in without any notification, are they going to do it to other buildings?" he said.

Scalia registered as a central-city business owner last week to gain access to the building and retrieve essential items.

However, he said he never heard from authorities.

"I did everything I knew to do. I am really surprised I didn't even get called before they bowled it.

"If they had of given me five minutes in there, I could have grabbed my safe, my passport and other documents.

"Why was it demolished yesterday, why could it not have been tomorrow? I could have been in there today."

Scalia said he saw the building on television last week and it did not appear badly damaged.

"I'm not really sure that it needed to be demolished," he said.

Scalia wanted to know if the site would ever be open to the public because he wanted to sift through the rubble.

He said authorities should have held public meetings for central-city business owners.

Leaseholder Stephen Weatherall was outraged the building had been demolished without notification.

"How can they wipe somebody's business off the face of the Earth and not even explain why they are doing it?" he said.

He said no-one was taking responsibility for the demolitions.

"I can't describe how I feel about Pete Scalia. They didn't even give him a chance to get in there. They can give you all this garbage about why they did it, but his whole life has been demolished.

"He's wiped out now. Everything he owned is just a pile of rubble."

Weatherall said he had begged authorities for permission to enter the cordon to secure the building, which housed four businesses.

"The sum of everything I own is in there and to not even be able to lock my front door? It is just criminal," he said.

Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton said every effort was made to contact owners before buildings were demolished, but that was not always possible.

The priority was to make the central business district as safe as possible.

Hamilton said there was now less urgency over the demolition process, which would slow with fewer Urban Search and Rescue engineers in the area.

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