QLDC’s Glenorchy cameras at centre of community backlash
After the Queenstown Lakes District Council announced the installation of three CCTV cameras in Glenorchy, two major questions have been raised by the community - why didn’t they consult anyone and what’s the reason for the project?
The QLDC first alerted the Glenorchy Community Association and Glenorchy-based councillor, Niki Gladding of the cameras last Friday by email, but the reasons provided didn’t sit right with local leaders.
Councillor Gladding says the locations for the cameras were the boat ramp/marina area and the public car park, plus another 360-degree camera for the end of the Glenorchy wharf.
Having a camera overlooking the marina was a “particularly sensitive place”, Councillor Gladding says because it's a recreational area with people in swimwear.
After posting the council’s CCTV plans on a Glenorchy Facebook community page, there was a lot of backlash.
“There was a lot of negative feedback. I don't think there was any positive feedback. There were comments around, ‘what are we trying to solve here? Why are we doing this?’ – which is a very reasonable question to ask.”
The three reasons provided by the council in the email were:
- Regulatory: Monitoring of boat ramps and jetties
- Monitoring of parking areas
- Resilience: Monitoring of the lake levels, to identify rise and fall of the lake’s water levels
Glenorchy Community Association chair John Glover has also expressed his confusion and told the council they should halt plans.
“I've given the council staff very strong advice to push pause. Because I think there would be a significant risk that if the cameras were put in at the moment, they would just be removed by the community.”
Mr Glover was unsure why the council felt the need to monitor lake levels when this was already being done by the regional council.
However, the surveillance of parking areas raised even more suspicion for Mr Glover, because there are no enforcement or time restrictions on the Glenorchy car park currently.
The reason for monitoring parking areas is just one of the questions Crux posed to the council today, along with the total cost of the project and why the community wasn’t consulted.
The QLDC wasn’t able to provide these answers today (February 15) but says they’ll provide an update tomorrow (February 16).
The QLDC was able to say there was not a fixed date for the installation of the cameras, but Mr Glover was under the impression it was happening imminently.
Councillor Gladding thinks the QLDC needs to outline exactly what the cameras are being used for and why they are needed, she also thinks they need to better improve their communication with the smaller communities in the district.
“I think we are all quite sensitive about these kinds of changes and what they mean.
“It's just one of those sensitive issues that should have been highlighted for the community and it should’ve been clear, what's the purpose of this? What's the problem this [the CCTV cameras] is solving and the costs need to be clear for people.
“It's just a case of having that discussion and finding out where people's concerns are to see if one should go ahead at all."
In bigger local population centres, including Queenstown and Wānaka, CCTV networks are already established but have been the focus of controversy related to their use for universal parking enforcement and fines, as well as concerns over privacy.