Wānaka leader urges local sports clubs to 'speak with a loud voice'

by Lauren Pattemore - Jun 17, 2024

Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board chair Simon Telfer says Wānaka's football, cricket and athletics teams need to make their feelings on funding allocation known to the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

After three Wānaka sports clubs spoke up about hitting capacity at current fields, having rabbit holes infiltrating their grounds, and the changing goal posts for when upgrades are coming, Crux reached out to local Wānaka leaders for their perspectives. 

Mr Telfer suggests the clubs present a combined front to the QLDC. 

"When the draft Long Term Plan is released for consultation in a couple of weeks I suggest these clubs put in a joint submission on how they suggest funding is prioritised in the Upper Clutha."

Simon Telfer says clubs should make a joint submission during consultation on the draft Long Term Plan.

Submissions to the upcoming plan are expected to open at the end of next week - on Friday, June 28. 

A few weeks ago, members of several Wānaka sports clubs were given a heads-up by council staff that in the draft plan for spending in the next decade, funding for a Wānaka multi-sports facility would kick in at 2030, however, this facility has been in discussion for a decade already. 

It frustrated clubs to see the Queenstown Event Centre allocated $5 million in the next three years of the plan, and in total $42 million in the six-year period when Wānaka is set to receive nothing.

The Queenstown spending is flagged for indoor courts, car parking and sports fields.

As another measure to help Wānaka clubs, the community board's Mr Telfer says he is "pushing hard" to have greater control over the spending of Wānaka land-sale funds. 

Earlier this year, the community board requested to have access to the $4.5 million that remains in the kitty from when Scurr Heights land was sold in 2016.

With that extra funding, he says the board can speed up and increase investment in community facilities and social infrastructure, and provision for more sport, play and recreation facilities "would be an obvious priority".

He says as Wānaka grows he becomes acutely aware of the pressure the increased participation numbers are putting on volunteer-run clubs. 

They've been consulting with the QLDC for a decade about restoring 20 hectares of land on Ballantyne Road, formerly an oxidation pond site, into a multi-sports ground.

Community board member John Wellington, who holds the sports portfolio, says he shares the club members' frustrations and has been involved in a few sports master-planning conversations in the past few years. 

He says he was very disappointed seeing moves towards implementing facilities get set back with each new Long Term Plan. 

And, he says seeing this continually happen is one of the reasons he stood for the community board in 2022.

"In my personal experience, anything beyond three years in the 10-year plan is usually subject to change and re-prioritisation when the next 10-year plan is prepared, and there is no guarantee that it will be delivered in those later years.

"It is important the community speak with a loud voice to ensure that council understands the strength of the community feeling on this issue."

He acknowledges where the council is at financially, and says, despite continuing to lobby for clubs, there is "very limited ability to do anything" in the next three years due to limited room in the QLDC budget. 

But, Mr Wellington doesn't think this is a Queenstown versus Wānaka problem, despite more funds going towards Queenstown in the next six years. 

"It’s a common issue across all the sports codes in the whole district as a result of the huge population growth."

Queenstown Lakes deputy mayor and Wānaka resident Quentin Smith says it is a "seemingly impossible challenge to keep up, let alone get ahead of" the demand for facilities due to the town's rapid growth.

Like Mr Wellington, Mr Smith says right across the district there is "very little" investment into sport and recreation in the next three years. 

He says the need for facilities is at the $100 million mark for the Upper Clutha area, but this is not affordable. 

Main image (Supplied): Wānaka Football director Ben Sippola, who spoke to Crux last week, and club players on sports grounds in the town.

 

 

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