There is only one candidate challenging incumbent Queenstown
Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden, but there are 14 contesting six
Wakatipu ward places and seven contesting the Wanaka ward's
Only two Wakatipu ward councillors are stepping down: Russell
Mawhinney has cited wanting to focus on personal goals and
business clients, and John Mann has expressed interest in
joining the district's licensing committee.
When it was proposed last year to abolish the Arrowtown ward,
more than 200 submissions were received, the majority in
support of keeping the ward. Despite this, only sitting
councillor Lex Perkins nominated himself to represent the
One of the biggest tasks facing the incoming council is that
of the proposed Queenstown convention centre, which yesterday
was kept alive by the current council.
Incoming councillors can decide against continuing with the
proposal, but judging from the applause generated by the
unanimous decision, Queenstown's business community would not
The council established a Working Group to progress the idea
in August 2011. A year later a request for proposal was
publicly issued seeking potential partners to develop the
In July 2013 the council officially put the idea out for
public consultation. The incoming council will be faced with
the more controversial decisions
such as whether to include a casino as part of the
development and what funding model to use.
Queenstown Lakes continues to be one of the fastest-growing
districts in New Zealand and the resort, surviving on its
burgeoning hospitality and tourism industry, must offer those
who work in these sectors somewhere affordable to live, as
they are typically on low wages.
As witnessed in the verbal submission hearing for the
proposed convention centre, there is concern from people
surviving on low incomes in an area known for inflated prices
about where they will live if the centre is confirmed and
finalised for the Lakeview site.
At Lakeview are low-rent cabins which house more than 100
The leases for the cabins expire in September 2015. In
Arrowtown, the leases for the Suffolk St cabins, many in a
similar state of disrepair, expire at the end of this month.
Incumbent mayor Vanessa van Uden has said the issue of
affordable housing is one for everyone in the Queenstown
Lakes District, including developers who must release the
available zoned land to the market.
The council's proposal to gift a section of Suffolk St land
bordering Jack Reid Park in Arrowtown, on which low-rent
cabins sit, drew much criticism from the Arrowtown community
and some people at a public meeting muttered that affordable
housing should be put ''on the dark side'' of town.
An integral dilemma not new to Queenstown's council is how to
best provide for visitors who come here in their millions
while having a small number of residents to pay rates.
The protracted and continuing saga of the Frankton Flats
zoning will carry over for the next council, potentially
costing ratepayers more and using council resources.
After the Otago Daily Times lodged an Official
Information Act request it was revealed Queenstown Lakes
District ratepayers had paid almost $755,000 for legal costs
in court battles concerning the Frankton Flats in the past
A Pak 'n Save supermarket and Mitre 10 Mega hardware store
were proposed for Frankton.
After approval was granted last year, appeals against them
were allowed in a decision this year.
In Wanaka, the long-awaited $16.7 million sports facility and
new swimming pool remain high on the community's priority
list of ongoing council projects.
The district plan review and development of a new reserve
management plan for all council reserves along the Lake
Wanaka foreshore are also important issues for consideration.
Management of the town's growth is becoming increasingly
necessary as proposals to rezone large areas of rural land
for industrial, residential and visitor accommodation use
move through the council.
Despite a recent survey of residents and ratepayers showing
satisfaction levels with the council were at a high, there is
an apparent disconnection from Wanaka people.
A campaign launched earlier this month is encouraging
Queenstown Lakes District voters residing in Wanaka to write
a comment such as ''Respect Wanaka'' instead of voting for
either Ms van Uden or Mr Angus.