OPINION: Over the years, a tourism, construction and general growth boom have created a perfect storm of conditions leading to painful traffic congestion in Queenstown.
Summer’s coming and there are no signs of growth slowing down, so it’s important we have plans in place to accommodate the increased pressure on our infrastructure.
Queenstown is heaving and for locals the constant development is bringing with it some big-city headaches.
I get it. All the frustrations you all feel with the progress on issues, many of which are the symptoms of this growth in Queenstown, I feel as well.
One goal for me this year was to ensure our electorate was at the forefront of government’s minds when they’re making decisions – particularly in regard to our roading network.
To do this, it’s important to get the movers and shakers to Queenstown to see the issues first-hand and get a real idea of how we are faring.
In August and September, I brought Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key, Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith to Queenstown.
This was Minister Bridges’ third visit to Queenstown in the past two years.
I’m in constant contact with Minister Bridges about our Queenstown issues because it’s broader than just the Queenstown community needing an efficient roading system.
While that is important – and I can say that now more than ever because I am a local ratepayer – our roads are also some of the most heavily-utilised tourism gateways in New Zealand.
If we don’t get them sorted, it’s not just a local issue any more. It becomes a reputation issue for national tourism.
Minister Bridges is doing an incredible job for us. He really is pushing for solutions.
To be blunt, this is the most attention any transport minister has ever given Queenstown and I can assure you that concerns raised by you are not falling on deaf ears – and there is progress being made.
When I hosted the prime minister in Queenstown on August 12 he was made well aware of the issues and is now in a much better position to drive for improvements, from a tourism perspective.
Having these ministers come to Queenstown means they are not just relying on advice from officials. The message is getting through.
At NZ Transport Agency briefings, Queenstown is given its own specific update and I can tell you there are not many parts of the country where that’s the case.
Across the country, everyone has a gripe about their local roads, so don’t underestimate the amount of pressure the minister is under. But Queenstown is seen as a priority.
Constituent enquiries about roading issues take up a large chunk of my time as I’m meeting and engaging with individuals, businesses and community groups to gather feedback on some of these unique problems we are facing and feeding that through to the minister’s office.
This has been a huge focus of mine, so thank you to everyone coming to me to discuss these issues. Don’t underestimate the role you are playing in making changes happen.
Todd Barclay is the Clutha-Southland MP