A veteran Queenstown businessman says the local council has misled the public over the loss of lakefront carparks.
Despite feedback from the community last week, the council is pressing ahead with a raft of changes to parking in the resort’s CBD, including the removal of 15 Marine Parade car parks.
They will be replaced by freeing up parks in the Church St car park.
In a statement on April 13, the council said plans to scrap the parks would “not occur immediately”.
In that statement, boss Mike Theelen said the council’s resolution would ultimately result in the loss of the 15 parks, but “as an interim step” the parks would be “reinstated as soon as the worksite hoardings can be safely removed”.
Despite that, an agreement was signed with Skyline to remove the parks on May 19.
Councillors were told last Thursday that work began at Marine Pde the day before.
Businessman Kim Wilkinson, who also addressed councillors on Thursday, says the first he knew of the work was at the meeting.
He believes the council “deliberately misled the public”.
“The mayor and councillors are representatives of the community.
“In a democracy, this means they advocate the wishes of the community, not enter into deals with private companies.”
Downtown QT boss Steve Wilde called the decision odd.
Wilde was one of five people who addressed the council during the public forum of Thursday’s meeting, urging the council to defer its decision.
He told the Otago Daily Times the incorporated society and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce believed they “had a promise from the chief executive” the parks would be in place this winter.
However, Theelen told the ODT on Friday he did not believe there had been “anything that’s endeavoured to be clever”.
The council had initially believed the car parks could be available for this winter; inquiries subsequently found that not to be the case.
“We were advised that the building redevelopment was going to require that space for actually most of the winter time.”
At that point, the council looked to find an alternative, Theelen says.
“That’s when we started talking to other people about relocating the council’s own fleet and also looking to reduce their number of leased car parks … to get additional car parking in [Church St].”
When asked why that was not communicated to business groups and the public, Theelen says it was because the council was focused on finding an alternative.
Otago Daily Times