DQ gets centre talk, public bypassed

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Queenstown business people are getting an exclusive council briefing on a proposed $60 million convention centre.

But the public – and media – are being bypassed.

Mountain Scene asked if it could attend this morning’s Destination Queenstown-organised forum to discuss the proposed rating model for the convention centre.

An invitation has been extended to members of the local Chamber of Commerce – which openly backs the centre – but the door has been slammed on media.

The meeting is being held at the council chambers.

Chamber operations manager Catherine Fallon says: “This meeting is not about the convention centre per se rather an explanation of the proposed rating model and will not be open to media.”

DQ communications manager Sarah Stacey also emailed to say the meeting was requested by DQ members keen to ask questions about the rating model before submissions close on .

“It is being held at the council chambers as we don’t have a suitable meeting room here at DQ.”

At a meeting last August, attended by about 120 people, council consultants updated the public on the centre’s design and progress.

At that meeting, Chamber chief executive Ann Lockhart said there would be another meeting in about two months focused on funding the centre.

The council held a drop-in meetings on the draft 10-year plan in Queenstown this week.

But the council’s strategic projects manager Paul Speedy acknowledges it hasn’t scheduled a public forum specifically about the rate implications of a council-backed convention centre.

“The main reason being, constraints on time in preparing the 10-year plan documentation and consultation timetable. Any opportunity to have a ‘stand-alone’ forum on the QCC was getting very close to the 10-year Plan public consultation period.He adds: “The 10-year plan consultation material (delivered to all rate payers) is informative and concise.”

Central Queenstown businesses face rates hikes of more than 30 per cent to pay for two huge projects – the convention centre and a sewerage system upgrade.

Details of the projects are contained in the 10-year plan document – which also details the rising costs of the proposed centre.

As revealed earlier this year, ratepayer costs for the proposed centre and associated plans to extend the town centre have topped $1m.