Free car parking proposed to stimulate CBD business

Untenanted car parks in Queenstown’s Athol St on Wednesday afternoon, where the rate is $4 an...
Untenanted car parks in Queenstown’s Athol St on Wednesday afternoon, where the rate is $4 an hour. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
Free parking is being suggested as one way to bring people back into Queenstown’s CBD and help restart the struggling hospitality and retail sector.

A Queenstown Lakes district councillor wants to trial free parking in Queenstown’s CBD to help the struggling hospitality sector.

Cr Val Miller is suggesting temporarily waiving parking charges from 4.30pm every day — currently, metered parking runs till 9pm.

"We want to encourage people to be using the bars and restaurants, so it would be a good gesture to the hospitality industry.

"I think particularly in the evening it should be free parking, but zones like taxi stands and loading zones should still be recognised."

It would just be until the
town became busier again, Cr Miller said, "because it sure ain’t busy at the moment".

"We’ll be getting stuff-all revenue at the moment because of the fact no-one’s actually parking, and we could probably deploy the council workers who give out the tickets to go and do something else."

For a trial to go ahead, Cr Miller also suggested councillors waived some of the procedural steps they usually had to go through to adopt a new policy.

Her stance is supported by fellow Queenstown councillor Penny Clark.

"With all the upheaval of the roadworks, as well, it’s just adding to a bit of pressure on our retailers and restaurants," she said.

Queenstown-based tourism and hospitality consultant, and former boutique hotel owner Louise Kiely wanted the council to offer two to three hours’ free car parking "to fill the empty parks and encourage the wider community ... downtown for a meal and shop".

"It is essential to support the local businesses that have given life, vibrancy and a lot of rates to downtown Queenstown for so long.

"Four dollars per hour or hefty $40-plus fines leave a sour taste for both locals and visitors. The number of blocked-off roads make it very difficult for most businesses already ... this is one way of showing positive support."

In the past, the council had defended parking charges, even during the present Covid-19-induced downturn, as a means of encouraging people to use buses. 

 - Philip Chandler

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