Arrowtown local wants to reform QLDC's relationship with the community

by Lauren Pattemore - Jun 18, 2024

Christina Dawson has lived in the Queenstown area since 2004, and reckons there's been a growing breakdown of communication between the council staff, councillors and the ratepayers.

"One of the bits that's possibly missing in the council's communication strategy is, 'how do we know that the community is feeling engaged with and consulted'."

Arrowtown resident Ms Dawson has recently felt motivated into action after reading reports of seemingly unfair parking infringements and blow-ups on Arrowtown social media pages regarding the pedestrian-trial in Buckingham Street and the new bike racks.

"There seem to be some really strong feelings about this whole parking issue and the issuing of parking fines... the other thing that I think is causing a lot of frustration, is the fact that the council seems to be using cameras a lot."

She tells Crux that the council's stance on parking infringements is "not serving the community", however, she notes there's a lot of nuance in the situation. 

"Running a council is an incredibly, incredibly challenging job."

She thinks there needs to be a way to better connect Queenstown Lakes District Council staff and elected councillors with the people, and has been floating the idea of starting an advocacy group to improve the relationship.

She says her first planned move is to engage with council staff personally, and get in touch with councillors and ask, "where do you need more help". 

"We need to find out what's at the bottom of this sense that the council isn't consulting... do people know about these surveys, and are they completing them? Or are they uninterested?"

She notes in the instance of Arrowtown's main street changes, the local residents association and the business association surveyed 400 people from the community about them, but wonders why the news caught so many people by surprise, and there were such "strong opinions". 

However, she's unsure whether the outrage expressed on social media is the "true temperature" of the community. 

Ms Dawson herself studied business and communication at Massey University, and learned about the nuances of local government growing up, as her mother served as a councillor at Hasting District Council and then a regional councillor at Hawkes Bay Regional Council.

Ms Dawson, first caught Crux's attention when she commented on the latest story about parking , by commenting in response to a parking story saying, "I think we need to start a campaign of organised civil disobedience".

However, when speaking with Ms Dawson on the phone, she clarifies that's not her immediate goal.

"Before I go all guns blazing, and say I'm going to start this advocacy group, and that we're going to start a campaign of civil disobedience, it's about what changes can be made relatively quickly so that our ratepayers are not being pinged over and over and over again."

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