An artist's impression of the proposed Queenstown
convention centre. Photo by QLDC.
It was ''yes'' to a $55.5 million convention centre for
Queenstown, ''yes'' to a $12.3 million sports facility for
Wanaka and ''yes'' to a $2.1 million upgrade of Wanaka's
swimming pool at yesterday's meeting of the Queenstown Lakes
While the decisions only go as far as putting three big
capital spending items into the draft annual plan, allowing
the public to have their say, there was no doubting
councillors' enthusiasm to keep the ball rolling on the
Councillors, meeting in Wanaka yesterday, got a unanimous
thumbs-up on the convention centre even before its own
Representatives from the Wanaka and Queenstown chambers of
commerce used the public forum to endorse the plan for the
centre on the council's Lakeview site in Queenstown and also
the council's financial plan to have ratepayers that benefit
the most pay the most in rates.
Queenstown chamber chief executive Ann Lockhart said
Queenstown's CBD would benefit and she congratulated the
council ''on getting this important project to this point''.
A small contingent of Queenstown businessmen also endorsed
the plan, including representatives of property-owning
companies Skyline Enterprises and Westwood Group Holdings.
Westwood director Johnny Stevenson said he would be
''disappointed'' if the project stopped at this stage.
Richard Hanson, of Aotea Group, believed it was important for
commercial tenants - likely to end up paying the higher rates
through higher rents - that the centre attracted more
Financial adviser Martin Hawes said a ''resounding yes'' to
the convention centre was required if the district was to
attract high-value tourists.
Mr Hawes said assessing risk was one of the most important
parts of his business.
''Nothing ever happens without someone taking a risk, and
doing nothing is also taking a risk.''
Mayor Vanessa van Uden opened the council discussion by
noting the centre had been three years in gestation and the
point had been reached where the public could see the likely
impact on them.
She said the council was aware of ''war stories'' over the
building of new facilities in other communities and described
the council's centre proposal as conservative.
''One of the things we can do continually is eliminate risk,
but there is no way there is going to be no risk.''
Ms van Uden said the council was not at the point of starting
to ''dig holes'' for the centre but was preparing to talk to
Cr Cath Gilmour, who abstained from the vote to put the
project into the draft annual plan, said the ''elephant in
the room'' was potential competition from a privately funded
convention centre proposed for the Remarkables Park
development at Frankton.
She wondered if the council might have underestimated the
Council chief executive Adam Feeley responded that those
behind the Frankton proposal had ''shared'' very limited
He considered the scale and location of the Frankton proposal
would not draw international conferences. It was ''more of
the same'' already on offer in the Wakatipu Basin rather than
a ''step change'' represented by the council's proposal.
Aside from Cr Gilmour, all councillors voted for the centre
proposal to go into the draft annual plan.
The Wanaka sports facility steering group's recommendation
was presented to the council by chairman Duncan Good.
Cr Callum McLeod questioned aspects of the group's report,
including the figures used concerning the cost of the sports
facility and the swimming pool upgrade.
He said estimated costs had not been delivered to the group
until its last meeting and had not been analysed by the
He noted other towns such as Gore and Balclutha had spent
much less on their indoor facilities and was concerned Wanaka
could have an over-capacity, with Mt Aspiring College
planning its own indoor facility.
The group's proposal has two indoor courts rather than the
three originally suggested and deputy mayor Lyal Cocks
considered that might be a ''missed opportunity''.
Ms van Uden said that was something to be considered during
the design stage where ''horse-trading'' could lead to the
adjustments being made.