OPINION: Yap and jabberwocky about walking, biking

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Three hearty cheers for councillor Val Miller, supported by councillor Penny Clark, in their call for a relaxation of the council/NZ Transport Agency anti-car policy in the Queenstown commercial area.

It is a breath of fresh air, particularly after five years of unrelenting rants by the Queenstown Lakes District Council, favouring the merits of walking and cycling.

There is no doubt that this hostility, plus the effects of Covid-19, have placed Queenstown’s commercial viability in an extremely precarious state — exacerbated, no doubt, by combined efforts of the council and NZTA to rid the town centre of cars and carparks.

And welcome to the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, which has at last discovered that Queenstown, pearl of the South Pacific, is facing tough times economically.

Until now its complacency has been puzzling — to say the least.

And why should I make these assertions?

In the early 1970s my involvement with the council gaining Ballarat Street shopkeepers’ consent to change lower Ballarat St into a pedestrian mall was, after much debate, only achieved when we had secured sufficient adjacent parking.

Only at that point did the retailers feel confident they would survive and thrive.

A succession of councils ensured adequate parking was available for Queenstown expansion.

Then came the crunch … the disastrous erosion of parking.

The whittling away of kerbside spaces.

The promises of parking buildings.

Plenty of talk, but no action — in contrast to Arrowtown, where the same council has done an admirable job in regard to providing parking sufficient to service both locals and visitors.

The global pandemic now gives council the opportunity to change tack like our sailors.

Perhaps, during the slowdown, instead of hounding our residents and visitors who park illegally, some gray matter could be used in seeking a real solution.

Video surveillance by ‘Big Brother’ should be the last step, rather than the first.

The existing council’s position appears to be ‘if you don’t use our bus service, you are not welcome’.

Nor do I want our council to enter into ventures such as Lakeview, the multi-storey apartment block which is planned to be built on the former QLDC camping ground.

Joint ventures with private sector investors in risky developments are hardly the ratepayers’ business.

It should be a no-go area.

I’d like the QLDC to stick to its knitting — water, roads, reserves, libraries, etc.

They could even cycle or walk round town and search for possible carparking sites.

For instance, part of the ex-camping ground adjacent to the cemetery and Man St, or Warren Park.

They could think about the workers who service our visitors, the mothers with children — or does the council deem them to be fledgling bikers or walkers or, more likely, skateboarders?

This issue will not go away.

It has been created by the neglect of the QLDC and it is becoming a monster.

All this yap and jabberwocky about walking and biking by the council and the NZTA is bulldust.

To my knowledge, not one metre of cycleway or footpath has been added to the triangle between Sunshine Bay, Arthurs Point and Fernhill.

The topography in that area is hardly conducive to cycling.

People from these catchments come to Queenstown.

Do they require parking?

Too bloody right.

And whose job is it to provide it, or make sure it is provided?

The council — when they wake up.

Warren Cooper is a former mayor and National cabinet minister