Mike Ramsay: Our freedoms are being whittled away for growth


Queenstown’s council is having a procrastination moment about housing affordability along Ladies Mile.

It asked for submissions and got a mixed response.

Predictably, a few land owners warmed to the notion of a bank balance windfall. Others were less sanguine.

We’re told the council wants to dump almost 3000 homes along the state highway.

One councillor suggested almost a third of the 136 hectares be given to the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust for “affordable homes”.

All well and good, except the other two-thirds would then be unaffordable.

Two other councillors wanted an immediate decision so that they might be seen to be like US President Donald Trump – decisive!

But, just like Donald, no thought about the consequences.

Another opines that giving up the entranceway to Queenstown for a bunch of houses that people can afford is giving something back to the community.

Really? The only thing you are giving back to the community is more road congestion on the morning commute, and ribbon development from Queenstown to Arrowtown along the lines of Australia’s Gold Coast, minus the high rises.

It’s for the lakes and landscapes that tourists come to Queenstown.

Without those, Queenstown would just be Hicksville.

Councillors have a duty to protect our landscapes – not trash them.

Queenstown is currently growing at an unsustainable rate and that is making many people’s lives unpleasant.

Officialdom wants us all to travel by bus, because council refuses to provide adequate parking, and our unaffordable rates are beginning to mimic the unaffordable housing.

We are becoming council tenants in our own homes, yet the appalling infrastructure planning struggles to keep pace with the population growth.

In short: all our freedoms are being slowly whittled away in the name of growth.

The growth-at-all-costs advocates don’t want to pick up the tab for better roads, two-lane bridges, a future dual carriageway between Arrowtown and Queenstown, and land needed for another high school.

Certain interest groups have unilaterally decided that the only Queenstown land currently zoned for education be filled with “affordable” houses instead.

The proposed Man Street bypass, the development of the original high school site at the bottom of Stanley St, and the future sewage to land disposal, are merely talking points as the decades tick by.

If we don’t build infrastructure before housing, then the folk who want to live here are not going to enjoy a good quality of life.

The vision that some council candidates espoused last October is beginning to look more like a patchwork quilt of random unaffordable housing and commercial buildings spread across the Wakatipu Basin. Council already has housing options close to the CBD and Frankton. Use them.

Keep your hands off our landscapes.

Our town has been sequestered by the money men – the Auckland corporates and a government that sucks $250 million a year in GST out of our town – yet won’t allow us to fund our own infrastructure via a visitor tax.

They all want the money but wish to dump the costs back onto the community.

Meantime, our gutless council gives in to the commercial pressure, instead of standing up for the folks who have built the place and lived here for decades. A little less growth might be a good starting point.

Mike Ramsay is a keen observer of the Wakatipu