Bloated resort’s New Year’s resolution


OPINION: Is the T-shirt a bit snugger than before Christmas? Has the festive holiday binge turned you from cuddly to husky?

If the answer’s yes then, like me, your early plans for the new year involve exercise, a healthier diet and fewer elbow-bending occasions.

The trick is not to feel guilty about the Christmas indulgence. I mean, how busy has town been? And the weather’s been magic.

Put those two circumstances together and – whammo! – you’ve got the perfect conditions for a bit of well-earned carousing.

That can’t carry on forever, in my case anyway, so it’s time for a bit of balance.

Many won’t stop at slimming goals, however. They’ll add other resolutions.

So I thought for the opening Parting Shot of the year I’d put together some resolutions for Queenstown itself. It’s time for the town to get a bit of balance – with a bit of help.

Immigration fast-track:

Talk is cheap. The government has got to deliver on promises for streamlined immigration. The plethora of signs at restaurants and bars for staff are evidence we can’t attract enough Kiwis to fill crucial jobs in this town. Something’s got to be in place by next summer. Realistically, a visit by ministers should be able to happen in February and a policy developed by July – giving accommodation houses and tourist operators months to attract the staff they need.

Traffic nightmares:

Those of you who stayed in town might have enjoyed a bit more of the scenery – courtesy of the nose-to-bumper traffic. It’s beyond a joke. Queenstown’s council is trying not to think about plans for a Man Street bypass and the Otago Regional Council’s doing bugger all about public transport. The New Zealand Transport Agency’s doing its bit on the Frankton Flats and the Kawarau Bridge but no one seems to be addressing Frankton Road itself. By the end of the year, I’d like to see the local council quadruple charges for its Gorge Rd carpark and see a commitment, at least, from ORC for a sizeable chunk of money and a reasonable plan to increase public transport patronage.

Health dilemmas:

The Southern District Health Board’s strategic plan will be signed off in March. Queenstown’s in danger of missing out if it’s not more organised. It’s kids and oldies which are your big health concerns. If you roll the figures together, Queenstown Lakes has more kids aged under 15 and over-65s (9100) than Central Otago (7500). Yet, Dunstan Hospital’s possibly got the inside running to be the health board’s inland regional hub. Why just roll over and let that happen?

Barring another Asian crisis or western financial meltdown, Queenstown’s population and visitor growth is only going in one direction – up. And quickly. Our summer bingeing of visitors makes this town more than husky – it’s morbidly obese.

No exercise regime is planned, and, yes, we must help ourselves. But it’s time the government, ORC and health board pulled their heads out of the sand and gave us a hand.