Council pitches for $68 million to unlock 1,600 jobs and $1 billion benefit

by Peter Newport - Apr 16, 2020

The QLDC has just announced a $68 million application for immediate "shovel ready" construction projects.

"Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is hoping to kick-start the district’s economy with Government funding, bringing in over 1,600 jobs and upwards of $1b in economic benefits.

The Council is requesting $68M in contributions from the Crown Infrastructure Partners’ “shovel ready” fund for key infrastructure projects throughout the district. If fully supported this will unlock over $500M of currently planned and accelerated investment across QLDC and NZTA including up to $180M in new investment into the Queenstown arterials. Nationally the $800M fund will support infrastructure projects which are ready to go within the next six to 12 months and will add significant value to the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Mayor Jim Boult has applauded the Government on its speedy introduction of the programme and the scale of the funding being made available.

Mayor Jim Boult

“I, and many of the Council team, have been working closely with Central Government to advocate for significant support across our district. Our district could be hit far worse than most with over 50% of all jobs in tourism, food, accommodation or construction sectors. Investment in these much-needed infrastructure projects will have an important role in supporting the district, both socially and economically, as we move to a new post-COVID-19 normal.”

“I am delighted and reassured that our call-to-arms is being heard by Ministers and Central Government officials, and I am confident that with their support, and the hard work and commitment of the Council staff, that we can help build a foundation for our community to come out the other side in a strong position,” Mayor Boult added.

Larger-scale infrastructure projects are typically very disruptive; however, the significant impact on visitor numbers in the foreseeable future provides an opportunity to fast-track a number of sizeable projects that have already been proposed or approved, with minimal disruption.

“While COVID-19 is incredibly unwelcome it affords us the opportunity to get ahead on key developments and deliver some real benefits to locals, as well as creating opportunities for our long term future. The proposals show the team are really thinking about how we can move the district into recovery. The submission for funding is one part of a broader approach to reigniting our economy and seeking to grow and diversify our base.”

Mayor Boult thanked the QLDC recovery team for their commitment to moving the community forward and capitalising on available opportunities.

Five “pipelines” of investment have been submitted for consideration, where Government support for early “shovel ready” components will allow Council to proceed with the remainder of the investment over the coming years.  Proposals include:

>         Transform the Queenstown Town Centre. The transformed area will be a highlight for the district and help draw locals and visitors back to the CBD and wider area.  The key part of this will be the designation and development of the first stages of the Queenstown arterials which will lay the foundation for the enhanced town centre, as well as improving traffic flow and supporting a new public transport hub for the town centre. The arterial is a strategic investment that unlocks the longer term redevelopment of the entire town centre in line with the approved Queenstown Town Centre masterplan. Other aspects include upgraded streetscaping and public amenity improvements, improved car parking and local road improvements to support mixed-mode travel.

>         Fast track an upgrade to the Shotover Delta Waste Water Treatment Plant which will see the oxidation ponds decommissioned, which allows the repurposing of about ten hectares of land into a ‘Zero Waste’ Kimiakau Community Eco Park including a materials recovery facility and other recycling facilities.

>         Support the Cardrona Wastewater Pipeline Project and Cardrona Wastewater Treatment Plant to enable a compliant wastewater scheme in the resort town.

>         Enhance the Wānaka Lakefront providing strong connections to the Wānaka town centre. It will promote active travel modes, host a range of recreational activities, enhance ecology and increase the visibility of Kāi Tahu through lakefront design, reflecting the importance of the lake to mana whenua. The proposal focuses on fast-tracking the later stages of the proposed lakefront development.

>         Upgrades and new sport, cultural and recreational facilities at the Queenstown Events Centre. Fast-tracked elements include two new artificial turfs, four new outdoor hardcourts, new and upgraded grass sports fields and improved access and parking, with later investment by QLDC including a new renewable waste water heat recovery system, two new indoor courts.

Mayor Boult said that these projects were critical not only in themselves but in providing confidence to the market to continue their investment in the district.

“A number of private developers have also made project applications to the CIP process, and we are encouraged by the continued confidence shown by investors in the district in these difficult times,” he said.

Developers in the district are also supportive of QLDC’s recovery plans to focus on key projects in the Lakes District. One significant developer in the district said:

“We have been watching the crisis unfold in Queenstown. The steps we are now seeing QLDC taking to fast-track key projects, in particular the Town Centre Master Plan and Arterial, is essential to ensure the long-term viability of Queenstown and to retain a skilled construction workforce. This is giving us the confidence to continue investing in our project which will ultimately unlock future housing, key worker accommodation, and other commercial opportunities. As such, we are continuing to develop the precinct master plan in collaboration with QLDC and we will be excited to present this to the community in due course.”

The application for funding was submitted on Tuesday 14 April, and QLDC will now wait for the government to decide which projects they will be funding through the “shovel ready” infrastructure fund. Alongside these, there are many other essential infrastructure projects across community facilities, roading, waste management and 3 waters infrastructure that continue to be progressed that didn’t meet the criteria for the fund.

Mayor Boult added that partnerships will be key to making our district’s future a success.

“As I have said recently, no single person or organisation can make our recovery happen. Our engagement and partnership with Central Government is essential. Partnerships within the private sector and from within our community are also vital to achieve the best possible outcome for Queenstown Lakes District. And I’d like to thank everyone out there who is doing their part for our community’s future.”

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