McDonald’s told to burger off

The proposed McDonald’s restaurant at 237 Wānaka-Luggate Highway, in the shadow of Mt Iron. IMAGE...
The proposed McDonald’s restaurant at 237 Wānaka-Luggate Highway, in the shadow of Mt Iron. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Organisers of a petition in response to McDonald’s plans to set-up a branch in Wānaka have a simple message for the fast food giant: burger off.

Sarah Morrison said she created the petition, which attracted more than 650 online signatures in 19 hours, as she believed the global restaurant brand did not fit with "Wānaka’s values".

"So far I’ve had a lot of messages and comments expressing a general dissatisfaction and disappointment with the idea of a McDonalds being opened in Wānaka."

She said one of the main points raised by those contacting her was a concern about the added impact of waste on an area "known for its environmental beauty".

"Having the large amounts of litter, food waste and general pollution associated with fast food chains is not what we want being brought into our environment," she said.

"Another idea raised was that as a community very focused on health, wellness and fitness, being home to many top athletes and being known for its wellness initiatives, having fast food being brought into the community is not in line with community values."

Ms Morrison said she had also heard from small businesses who were worried about the impact McDonald’s would have on their efforts to provide "quality food and employing locals with actually decent hours and pay rates".

"I’ve already been contacted by a few different coffee shops and food carts around Wānaka who have expressed gratitude towards a petition against it and wanted to get on board with having the community voice heard."

Ms Morrison said she planned to eventually present the petition to the Queenstown Lakes District Council, and will work with the community by providing submission templates when the resource consent is publicly notified.

Wānaka Business Chamber general manager Glenn Peat said while he could not comment on the chamber’s stance until its members had a chance to meet, he respected "the sentiment of the residents that have been opposing this in the last 24 hours".

"Everybody wants to maintain our distinct character and preserve our local charm. That’s the whole idea and that’s why people are a little bit up in arms in this regard.

"It’s essential that we acknowledge the concerns expressed by members of the community and business community for that matter, because they are valid."

Mr Peat said McDonald’s status as a global brand meant it would inevitably bring both "opportunities and challenges" to a place like Wānaka.

"The cool thing with Wānaka is we’ve always supported local and local people will continue to do so.

"But as we grow, we have to try and find the right balance between the large scale corporate businesses or franchises that come in but also making sure we keep our identity intact.

"And that’s always hard, that’s always going to be difficult."