The Queenstown and Wanaka regions could be set to reap the benefits of a billion-dollar investment in infrastructure over the next ten years.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is proposing this massive investment to cater for the forecast growth in population and tourism in both Wanaka and Queenstown. The level of expenditure required is currently under consultation in the Council’s Ten-Year Plan.

Our region is the fastest growing district in New Zealand and the country’s premier tourist destination. It is in need of this level of investment in order to accommodate growth and cater to our visitors.

Both Queenstown and Wanaka have redevelopment projects for their Central Business Districts planned. Wanaka’s plan includes its foreshore and marina areas and will commence this year. Queenstown has plans for a multi-million-dollar revitalisation of the town centre which will proceed to a detailed planning phase once approval for funding is given. Acquiring additional funding over and above these initial phases of improvement is both highly desirable and necessary to future-proof the towns.

Funding investment of this scale presents a unique challenge to our region because of our ratio of residents to visitors, currently sitting at 1:34.

With funding for local infrastructure resting with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, such expenditure could impose quite weighty costs on residents who currently pay through their rates. So, while the local rates are still likely to increase, Council is working with central government to consider additional sources of funding, including instigating some form of visitor tax.

This would likely be welcomed by residents who enjoy the myriad of benefits from our visitors, but would like to see costs shared more fairly. Such taxes are not uncommon in popular tourist destinations overseas, but have not been implemented in New Zealand at this point. We have enjoyed hosting our visitors as cheaply as possible for many decades, but increasingly our systems are becoming strained as visitor numbers increase, and we would not like to see the quality of our region decline.

We hope to see efficient and sensible decision-making by all concerned, to enable our residents and visitors to continue to LOVE our special and beautiful region.

The 2018–2028 10-Year Plan, or Long-term plan (LTP), was released for public consultation on 12 March 2018. It outlines the proposed rates increases and corresponding increases in investment into large scale projects such as arterial routes and parking in the CBD, a new Council building and water supply.

What is the Queenstown Lakes District Council?

The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is the local government authority responsible for the wider region that includes Queenstown, Wanaka and surrounding areas.
In New Zealand, district councils are responsible for local infrastructure including public buildings and facilities, roading, sewerage, transport, car parking as well as recreation, building consents, the land use and subdivision aspects of resource management, and other local matters.

District Councils are the second tier of local government in New Zealand, below regional councils.

What is a Long-term Plan?

Every three years the Council must adopt a 10-Year Plan and in the years between, Council adopts Annual Plans. This is a blueprint for how the district will be run over the next 10 years.

Long-term plans are intended to outline the District’s strategic vision, set out financial strategy, and provide the framework for future development. Each plan outlines QLDC’s policies, details community and economic development targets, and identifies key issues facing the District. They consider local governance, environmental management, infrastructure, district facilities and community services.

What are rates?

Rates are local “taxes”, paid in New Zealand to each local government council to fund local infrastructure and services. They are imposed on each property based on the government valuation of the property.