Ladies Mile - QLDC's insane development plans

by Peter Newport - Jun 23, 2021


Anyone who has driven into or out of Queenstown will know that our narrow roads cannot take any more traffic. Our mountains, bridges, rivers and lakes means that the roads cannot be widened.

The current bumper to bumper peak hour traffic is of course post Covid and prior to the expected arrival of Australian and domestic ski tourists this winter.

Nevertheless, the Queenstown Lakes District Council decided to spend their now standard price of $1.5 million for a bunch of out-of-town consultants to come up with a grand plan to develop SH6 – Ladies Mile with another 2,500 houses.

The Shotover Bridge can't be widened - making Ladies Mile congestion unfixable

The council and consultants' Einstein-level thinking around the small issue of an extra few thousand cars being added to current daily grid lock is that we are all going to suddenly jump on our e-bikes or catch a bus that somehow is not caught up in the traffic. And hey-presto – the extra traffic will just melt away. Pure Magic.

All the evidence is against that happening – anywhere in the world – at the rate that would save Ladies Mile going from the existing gridlock to complete breakdown of our local transport system. That would cost tens of millions of dollars in lost productivity every week.

The worst aspect of this madness is the sham of QLDC’s “consultation” – from the Tarras Airport school of community engagement where facts are discouraged, and actual questions are unwelcome.

There is however one unique feature of QLDC’s Ladies Mile communications approach. A large public meeting earlier this year where the mayor and his assembled council managers told the community that, actually, there was nothing that can be done to stop this development. A novel approach - "this meeting is a waste of time."

All the logic in the world, let alone a few key principles of democracy, say that must be wrong.

And of course, it is wrong. If ratepayers have no influence over the shape of our community then the entire apparatus of local elections and the council itself is beyond broken.

Following the Wanaka ratepayers High Court victory this year that showed QLDC consultation over Wanaka airport expansion was evasive and misleading, will it take another expensive High Court Judicial Review to establish that the same thing is happening in Queenstown over Ladies Mile?

A five-year-old child could tell us in less than 10 seconds that there is no room for extra traffic on that road - quite apart from the even more obvious point that the rest of our infrastructure is also stretched to breaking point. How long will we as ratepayers allow our council to spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to prove otherwise – against the clear wishes of the people?

Next week’s council meeting, when the QLDC’s own survey of residents will be tabled (86% against development with most of the rest being neutral) will be interesting.  

Will common sense prevail? The council’s recent history suggests not.

Will there be a wholesale change of elected members and a new mayor following next year's local elections? Definitely.

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