Councillor fears Queenstown at risk of becoming ‘boarded-up ghost town’ [Otago Daily Times, 12/02/21]

Otago regional councillors are apprehensive about contributing to a proposed $200million spend on transport projects for Queenstown, if the resort is at risk of becoming a “boarded-up ghost town”.

Councillors were asked to endorse further development of the proposed plan, which involves work being completed by the regional council, Queenstown Lakes District Council and NZ Transport Agency, during a meeting of the regional council’s strategy and planning committee this week.

The plan could address congestion issues and reduce emissions.

Regional councillors decided they would support it, subject to feedback during public consultation on the regional council’s long-term plan, but said they felt it was a risk.

It would cost $1.5million, shared equally between the regional council and NZ Transport Agency over the next two years, to develop the more detailed plan.

Delivering improved bus services in the Wakatipu was estimated to cost $131million between 2024 and 2030, and new infrastructure, including a Queenstown public transport interchange and Frankton public transport interchange, would cost $61million between 2028 and 2030.

The projects and costs would be shared between three organisations.

The plan would rely on 40% of people switching to alternative modes of transport, including walking, cycling and public transport, by 2028.

That would need to increase to 60% by 2048, a staff report to councillors said.

Cr Michael Deaker called the proposed plan optimistic, considering there were fears Queenstown could become a ‘‘boarded-up ghost town’’ before international travellers could return.

‘‘Why would we be doing that if the mayor of the district is accurate in his forecast — for his town being a place of boarded-up businesses?’’ Cr Deaker asked.

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