Calls for convention centre

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The urgency for Queenstown’s first convention centre has moved up a gear with a call for community feedback on its location and design. 

The local volunteer steering group wants people to come forward with ideas for the much-needed facility – on where it could be built, how big and who will fund it – before it goes to council by the end of the year. 

The group – comprising Sir Eion Edgar, Hotel Council chair Penny Clark, Destination Queenstown’s Kylie Brittain, Radio New Zealand journalist and thespian Steve Wilde, and Chamber of Commerce member Miles Wilson – is overseen by mayor Vanessa van Uden and has identified there’s a demand for a 1000-1200 person capacity centre, with six to eight breakout rooms, kitchen, exhibition space and adequate parking and bus drop-off areas. 

Van Uden believes the Government may be willing to stump up a significant amount for the multi-million dollar project after conversations with Prime Minister John Key during Winter Festival. 

“In order to be able to talk about money with the National Govern­ment we have to have a proposal. There’s no point saying to the Government ‘Yes, we’d like a conference centre but we’re not sure where yet’.” 

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister says if re-elected it’s something the National Govern­ment could consider subsidising, but wouldn’t fully fund. 

Based on the group’s research, a downtown location is currently preferred, Van Uden says. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council could provide land – possibly on Stanley Street by the Ballarat St public car park – but she stresses this hasn’t got formal council approval. 

“The group is just brainstorming at this stage and we don’t want to shut any ideas off.” 

It’s important the community gets an opportunity to have a say before the project is fast-tracked, she says. 

“We’d like the convention centre built as soon as possible. 

“There’s quite a process to lead up to it but seeing as that everybody believes strongly there’s a market there for it and that it has huge benefits for Queenstown and the community, in terms of more people coming to visit and staying longer … we need to keep the focus on it and keep moving on it.” 

Interested parties have till October 14 to submit their ideas. Information can be found on the QLDC website.