Pay and dismay – carpark charging debacle

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Queenstown’s new paid car parking regime has copped a backlash from downtown workers. 

Hundreds of commuters are boycotting the pay-and-display system which came into force this week at the resort’s most widely used free parking spaces in the central business district. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council now charges commuters $2.50 a day to use the previously free Boundary Street and Recreation Ground carparks and have hiked up the price of the pay-and-display Ballarat St park from $2.50 a day to up to $9 for nine hours. 

The idea is to make people “travel smarter”, by encouraging cycling, bussing or carpooling. It’ll help pay the $1.1 million car parking debt, QLDC says. 

Several motorists spoken to by Mountain Scene say they’re “disgusted” and “unimpressed” by the move. 

Jamie Cowan was one who left Boundary St to find somewhere else to park on Monday. 

“This is typical Queenstown,” he says. 

“We don’t have enough parking as it is. It’s just less [options] for the working person in Queenstown. It’s another kick in the teeth in an already expensive place to live.” 

Regular Boundary St user Claire Bolger found a spot on Park St by the Gardens on Tuesday. 

“I’ve decided to come here today and not pay,” she says. 

“The biggest thing that annoys me is they say there’s carpooling available and that people should be walking, riding their bike or catching the bus but it’s very hard – I have a small child going to daycare every day. That’s just not going to work.” 

QLDC transport boss Denis Mander says he expected people to react by finding other free places to park. 

“What could happen is that after a while people start to come back to it, so that’s something that we’ll be watching, particularly as we get into the summer season.” 

Mander adds: “We’ve been getting a handful of emails a day about concern over locals having to pay for parking … and that Queenstown is an expen-sive place to live and this is adding to that, along those lines,” he says.
Mander plans to report to councillors about the success – or otherwise – of the charges early next year.