Council crossroads

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It’s D-Day for Queenstown’s council.

Today councillors will consider a smorgasbord of major decisions that could drastically impact the resort’s future, after an announcement of “national significance” by mayor Jim Boult at noon.

Housing, a nine per cent rates hike, the airport, district plan and annual plan are just some of the issues up for discussion at 1pm’s full council meeting.

It comes as sectors of the community are spitting tacks over the resort’s direction.

The decisions also come on the same day a major announcement is expected, although the council’s staying tight-lipped on just what that is.

All it’s prepared to reveal is that Boult will make an announcement at the council chambers at 12.15pm, on a matter significant to both the district and the nation. No other officials or dignitaries will be present.

The full council will then consider an urgent item at 1pm.

Following that, perhaps the most contentious item on the agenda is a recommendation to green-light Laurel Hills, the 156-home Ladies Mile special housing area that’s riled up Shotover Country and Lake Hayes Estate residents.

Council planners say it should be approved in principle, although they warn the council will have to address major traffic and transport issues along Ladies Mile.

More than 300 submissions on the proposal were made during public consultation, with just three predominantly in favour of the development.

Another contentious topic is the strategic direction of Queenstown’s airport, which was the subject of widespread community pushback last year over a bid to extend its noise boundaries.

Councillors will today consider Queenstown Airport Corporation’s Statement of Intent 2020-22, which reiterates its decision to hold off on significant expansion of Queenstown Airport while focusing on the potential expansion of its Wanaka neighbour.

Meanwhile, a major new solid waste system’s set to make the district greener – and leave some residents’ wallets lighter.

Councillors will today be asked to approve public consultation on the draft 2019-20 annual plan.

The 10-year plan had signalled an average rates rise of 5.99 per cent for the year.

That will jump to 8.72 per cent.

According to the draft plan, the main factor behind the increase is a new solid waste service set to launch on July 1.

Instead of users buying blue rubbish bags and red wheelie bins, the new service will be paid for through a targeted rate.

Because of that, the council said for many the change will represent an overall cost saving.

“For those individuals who are already on their way to creating minimal waste, we acknowledge and accept that for you, there is a price to supporting the whole district’s journey towards zero waste.”

Every household will have two 140-litre bins (for separate glass and rubbish) and one 240-litre bin for other recycling.

There will also be district-wide glass recycling.

In their introduction to the plan, mayor Jim Boult (above) and council chief executive Mike Theelen say the district has reached a “crossroads” in terms of its commitment to recycling, composting, and reducing waste. “It’s not radical, fringe or alternative to reduce our carbon footprint – it’s our only option.”

Also up for discussion today are decisions on stage 2 of the proposed district plan, speed limits, local government funding, and the Vision Beyond 2050.