Mike Ramsay: Float boats to bust congestion

Queenstown's buses: Only part of the only solution

OPINION: House-minding was never a holiday option I’d considered, but when the opportunity arose in Sydney, I grabbed it.

On one side I can almost reach out and touch the barques of Sydney’s heritage fleet as they sail down Darling Harbour.

On the other, a modern marina beckons.

Watching the endless boat traffic upon Sydney’s harbour set me thinking.

Seedney-siders, (Y and I tend to be pronounced as E over the ditch) know how to use their magnificent harbour well.

It’s something Queenstown folk haven’t quite got the hang of.

Our few jetties are mostly for tourist use and any boats with a penchant for a mooring or tie-up facility, let alone a private wharf, are much discouraged by both availability and bureaucratic costs.

Our council, it seems, doesn’t feel comfortable with the idea of melding land and water into a seamless attraction.

I’m guessing it’s worried about stuffing it up. It needn’t be.

If three cruise liners, a dozen ferries and an assortment of private 12-metre vessels can functionally occupy less than a square kilometre of Sydney Harbour, then surely we can make better use of our wonderful lake to ferry people about as a road alternative.

Queenstown Bay could have numerous jetties adjacent to the Gardens shoreline, and an occasional small cafe.

Lease fees could support an improved public walkway, better Gardens experience, and an almost lake-level groyne off the Gardens’ point to provide calmer waters in the bay.

Our lake, the country’s third largest, is under-utilised and offers a public transport opportunity that has been pretty much ignored.

It is time it was embraced for the opportunities it offers.

Then there’s public transport.

Mayor Jim intends to introduce a $2 public bus fare. That is half the solution.

The buses need to run on time if the council wants them well-patronised. To reduce congestion along Frankton Road you need to remove vehicles during rush hour.

The proposed increase in downtown parking charges smacks of too much stick and not enough carrot.

The mooted ferry service from Kelvin Heights to the CBD has had a still-birth.

A bus subsidy ought to also apply to a ferry subsidy.

The new Wakatipu High School will result in further Frankton road congestion as 900 school kids and accompanying transport head for Frankton, along with the usual density of other road users.

On present growth projections, it’s likely that within a decade we will need another high school.

With the current grounds in central Queenstown earmarked for cheap housing – despite zero evidence that any housing is cheap these days – there will be no place to build another.

It is a major strategic mistake to remove land designated for education, and substitute a housing development.

Those new tenants will have children too. They’ll need schools.

And with the only high school at Frankton, further road congestion will be the result.

There is plenty of land up Gorge Rd to build housing, but good education land with school buildings already erected upon it ought to remain for the purpose of Queenstown’s future education.

Building Minister Nick Smith and local MP Todd Barclay – take note.

Mike Ramsay is a keen observer of the Wakatipu