Charge to residents decried

The Queenstown township looking towards Arthurs Pt. Queenstown Bay and the CBD are in the...
The Queenstown township looking towards Arthurs Pt. Queenstown Bay and the CBD are in the foreground. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A Queenstown councillor is questioning why the resort’s "wider CBD" — including residents — should pick up the majority of the tab for the now infamous "road to nowhere".

Queenstown Lakes District Council’s draft long-term plan, out for consultation until July 28, includes options "1A" and "1B" to recoup the costs of the CBD upgrade and arterial road projects.

Both "preferred" options are for the wider CBD — essentially bounded by Suburb St, Hallenstein St, Industrial Pl, upper Brecon St, Thompson St and One Mile — to pay 65% of the costs of both projects, through targeted rates over the next 30 years.

The alternative is to spread the load across the entire ward.

CBD business iFly owner and Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce board member Councillor Matt Wong believed it would come as a "massive shock" to all CBD ratepayers, and the economic timing "is just shockingly terrible".

While businesses might be prepared to "take the hit", he questioned why they, and residents, should shoulder the burden of the budget-blown arterial road, which was fundamentally designed as a CBD bypass.

"You’ve got residents there, who I’ve heard from, who had a beautiful backyard and now it’s a retaining wall.

"They’ve lost property value ... and they’ve had so much stress on them it’s not funny — same with the commercial accommodation operators on that arterial route.

"They’ve been in tears and now we’re going to target them with a 65% rate ... for this arterial [because] they’re saying that 65% of the users are going to be CBD people."

He believed that was "very disproportionate" given the primary users of the "future state highway" would likely be residents and businesses from other parts of the district.

The proposals led Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sharon Fifield to question what the council was doing to support CBD businesses, noting "Survive to ’25" was "certainly" at play.

"I think in this climate, [what has been proposed] is a huge burden on CBD businesses at a time when business confidence is low, operating costs are at a record high, and they’re doing all they can to cut costs and survive."

She noted promised replacement CBD parking had still not been provided, making the area less accessible.

Further, "it feels like council are quite actively discouraging people visiting the CBD with their over-zealous CCTV parking ticketing".

Mr Wong believed CBD businesses were suffering more now than they were during Covid, and he said some were now questioning if they could afford to operate in the CBD any more.

While Ms Fifield agreed businesses might be prepared to swallow the Queenstown CBD Transport Improvement Rate as it related to the street upgrades, asking them to do the same for the arterials was "a step too far".

Mr Wong said while it was still in draft form, the council wanted to hear what ratepayers had to say.