Ian Harrison believes the decision to close the Hawke's Bay Opera House is one for the people to make, not the politicians.

The chairman of Evidence Based Seismic Strengthening (EBSS) spoke at an information evening last night on "where to now" for the opera house.

About 70 people attended the meeting, many concerned about the projected $20 million cost to restrengthen the building.

Mr Harrison said this would compound Hastings' financial issues, having already accrued a $55 million external debt.


He believes the restrengthening of the opera house is unnecessary, saying the risks have been exaggerated.

"It's an extremely bad investment.

"The riskiest aspect of going to the opera house is the drive to and from," he said.

The opera house was closed in 2014 when it was deemed unsafe and came under the required 34 per cent of the national building standard.

"The life safety risk for someone visiting the opera house and being killed is 1 in 10 million, so on average you will likely be killed once every 10 million years.

"One of the biggest problems is people haven't been made aware of the actual risks."

He concluded that due to the low occupancy and rarity of destructive earthquakes, restrengthening was not a viable option.

Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers said she and mayor Lawrence Yule met Mr Harrison yesterday to clarify the council's position.

She said the council had carried out three independent engineering assessments and received two separate lots of legal advice.

"The council's position is we just aren't willing to risk the lives of up to 900 people."