Queenstown’s benevolent dictator prepares for battle [The Spinoff, 20/09/19]
Freedom camping, public transport and affordable housing are challenges Queenstown’s Mayor Jim Boult says he’s uniquely poised to solve – if only people would do what they’re told.
“I’ve had a lifetime in business and you get somewhere in business if you are tenacious and you push things through that you think need to be done,” he says. “I was elected by a landslide in 2016 because I think there was a view in the district that we needed stuff to be done, and we’ve done stuff. Sometimes that’s required me to be a bit bloody-minded.”
Nowhere is this more evident than in the brewing battle over a proposed expansion to Queenstown Airport, which would potentially double its capacity by 2045 by extending noise boundaries. The approach to the current runway is one of the most picturesque in the world. Planes fly in the shadow of the alps toward the base of the lake.
Boult is totally opposed to expansion, favouring an extension in Wanaka – much to the chagrin of some in the township. Not everybody agrees with a halt on growth, but Boult, who led Christchurch Airport as chief executive through a terminal expansion and both earthquakes, says not everybody is informed.
Boult has an ambitious, 10-year, billion-dollar plan for the region, which is expected to have a larger permanent population than Dunedin by 2028.