Quake-fix for housing


Shipping containers should be brought in to temporarily house Queenstown workers, a veteran local hotelier says.

Goldridge Resort general manager Penny Clark reckons without urgent temporary staff accommodation the resort could grind to a halt.

She’s suggesting container units, such as those used for workers who rebuilt earthquake-hit Christchurch, could be erected on the council’s Lakeview site in central Queenstown.

Clark - a local hotel manager since the early 1990s – says the housing crisis has never been worse.

There wouldn’t be a local hotelier who’s not had to take a room out, this past summer, to house homeless staff, she says.

The problem will get worse in winter, she fears, as workers will be less likely to live in tents and cars.

“The town needs to lift its game and think about a temporary solution to get us through the next few years, just like Christchurch did.”

Clark’s aware of developers keen to invest in container housing but says council land would need to be gifted to them.

If nothing’s done, she concedes the town could almost come to a standstill: “It sounds a bit dramatic, but that’s correct.”

Clark says Queenstown hoteliers all believe that hotel developers in future should be required to provide staff accommodation, as used to be the case.

“The council took the requirement out - everyone agrees that that was a shortsighted thing to do.”

Hoteliers have discussed leasing houses then sub-leasing them to staff.

“But I know at least three hotels that have attempted to rent and given up because the landlord or rental agency won’t rent it to a hotel because they’re worried what’s going to happen - like parties or the place getting trashed.”

Clark recently stepped down as the Tourism Industry Association’s Queenstown hotel sector chairman, but has taken on the staff accommodation portfolio.

While participating in councillor Cath Gimour’s affordable housing discussion group, “I kept reminding
them, ‘what do we do tomorrow, we have a problem now’.”

Clark admits it’s “an irony and a half” that she’s proposing temporary housing at Lakeview, in place of
‘affordable’ cabins removed for the council’s proposed conference centre.

“We should have left the cabins, but I understand why they had to go, to build the convention centre.

“But the council has taken so long with that that I can’t wait any longer.”

Clark says the site’s advantage is services like water and sewerage are already there.

“I’m saying, ‘council, come on, if you’re prepared to help us a bit then we might find a developer that will help the town’.”

The council didn’t respond by publication deadline.