Are QLDC ratepayers prepared to pay for housing action?

by Kim Bowden - Apr 27, 2023

The Queenstown Lakes community has called for action on housing, and now they’ll have the opportunity to tell the council just how far they think it should go towards finding fixes.

At this afternoon’s full council meeting elected members unanimously approved the draft Joint Housing Action Plan, which will now go out to the public for feedback. 

How 'joint' is the Joint Housing Action Plan?

The 20-page draft plan outlines steps the council can take, in partnership with other stakeholders, to improve housing availability and affordability in the district.

But the question is: will Queenstown Lakes District ratepayers be willing to put their money where their mouth is?

Because while the name of the document includes the word ‘joint’, it appears it is the council that will be driving the projects proposed in it. 

The plan has been created in partnership with central government and other stakeholders, but a council boss explained to councillors today the bulk of the mahi, and probably the cost, looks set to fall on the district’s ratepayers.

“I think it’s fair to say that in practical terms we will be leading most of these actions, if not all of these actions…We will be the driving force behind them,” QLDC strategy and policy boss Michelle Morss says.

Exactly how much each of the actions put forward in the plan will cost is as yet unknown.

She says each action “will require its own project plan to secure resources and agreement, on a case-by-case process”.

So, what will that look like? Council staff will take onboard feedback from councillors and members of the public on the draft plan, and it will be tweaked and presented back to councillors for sign off.

Then, specific actions from the plan will be further nutted out, and next year when consultation on the next Ten Year Plan takes place they will have “far greater costing details”.

Speaking at the meeting, deputy mayor Quentin Smith asked for assurance from council staff that the plan had tangible goals.

“Many of the actions are further investigation and developing ideas and stuff. Can you give me some assurity this is a living document that will move forward into ‘action action’ as opposed to investigating action?”

Ms Morss’ reply: “Yes”.

“The housing question is extremely complex – there are many layers at a national, local, regional level, short, medium, long-term horizons, numerous players.

“No one player can solve this challenge alone.”

It is her view the QLDC is in an “unprecendented” position to have a range of stakeholders around the table working in partnership to address housing challenges.

However councillor Lyal Cocks questioned the balance of that partnership, saying at today's meeting he feels nervous it is "slanted" towards the council.

It is his view there are some things central government could do with urgency to make a difference - addressing the stagnant accommodation supplement among them.

Councillor Niki Gladding also expressed concern the council should not accept a passing of the buck - many of the housing issues the plan seeks to address should, in her view, fall to central government, and she does not want to see ratepayers footing the bill where taxpayer funds should.

Read more : QLDC's housing plan revealed: but will it make any difference?

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Main image: QLDC strategic growth manager Anita Vanstone and strategy and policy general manager Michelle Morss present the Joint Housing Action Plan to councillors.

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