By KERRIE WATERWORTH
Concerns about ‘‘extremely high’’ rent prices, the high cost of heating, access to mental health services and an over-reliance on tourism are among issues raised in Queenstown’s council’s most recent ‘quality of life’ survey.
The third annual survey was conducted by Versus Research in September and sampled 1000 residents — 70% from Queenstown and its environs and almost 30% from Wanaka.
This year the primary objective was to understand the overall impact Covid-19’s had on residents.
Report authors say residents surveyed last year aren’t as resilient as those surveyed in 2018, most likely due to the impacts of the global pandemic.
‘‘While those who have lost jobs are likely bearing the brunt of stress due to the unknown, findings showed that those who do still have work are not exempt from feeling anxious about the uncertain future,’’ the report says.
Despite many landlords offering rent reductions last year, the number of residents unable to afford rent jumped to 26% — up from 3% in the 2019 survey, and high rental costs impacted on tenants’ ability to be able to afford heating.
The survey’s found demand for mental health services has also increased among low-income earners.
But respondents say the mental health space is ‘‘under-serviced’’ and there’s an overwhelming perception current available services — particularly public — are ‘‘unable to cope with demand levels’’.
The authors also note a drop in job satisfaction — respondents say there have been changes to their employment, they’re worried about job security and they feel they’re underpaid for the work they do.
Many say Covid’s acted as a ‘reset button’ for the tourism sector, and plans should be in place to better manage challenges the tourism sector and tourists often pose.
‘‘While it [tourism] is an important part of the Queenstown economy, it shouldn’t be the only part.
‘‘This imbalance has been growing for a long time, and Covid-19 has almost brought Queenstown to its knees,’’ one respondent says.
The authors question if the current ‘mono-economy’ system has the capacity to provide an
array of financially-stable jobs.
That’s ‘‘particularly important’’ because ‘‘financial stability’’ is fundamental to a high quality of life here, they say.