Forum hears views on event funding

A suggestion the Queenstown Lakes District Council fund a contestable district-wide events fund drew sharp intakes of breath, nervous giggles and oohs, during a teleconference between Wanaka and Queenstown residents yesterday.

The suggestion was just one of many made at the Shaping Our Future forum and it is not known whether it will make it into an eventual strategy that will be drafted for public comment later this year.

A contestable ratepayer fund suggestion was made by one of three Wanaka groups that had workshopped ideas for an events strategy, but drew a negative reaction when relayed back to the Queenstown workshop.

A working party is to be established from the events forum to draft the strategy, which is expected to be released in November. Earlier forums on events strategies for Queenstown and Wanaka have a different focus on event management for the district.

Queenstown's main concerns include developing a strategy, finding money, facilities and infrastructure to support the events industry, and addressing a perceived lack of co-ordination of events around the district.

Wanaka's primary concerns were the impact of events on the community, funding, finding volunteers, establishing a point of difference for Wanaka and how to achieve a sustainable events industry.

Alistair Porter, of Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, said Destination Queenstown and Lakes Leisure had found themselves in the position of being de facto events organisers.

The events taskforce was needed and he looked forward to a detailed strategy.

The Queenstowners did not want to guide Wanaka people as to what should be in it, Mr Porter said.

Some of the Queenstown participants were on a similar wavelength to Wanaka people, suggesting there be one central body with a district focus, but also suggesting multiple sources of funding rather than just the ratepayer.

No-one suggested how much ratepayers should provide.

Facilitator Steve Henry of Hawea Flat, speaking on behalf of Wanaka businesswoman Victoria Murray-Orr, who runs Evenz, but could not be at the forum, said it was important to have a cohesive approach.

Examples of calendar clashes included big mountainbike races at Jacks Point and in Wanaka at Labour weekend. He said Mrs Murray-Orr also wanted to highlight the need for a realistic council budget.



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