Opinion: What’s the worst that could happen?

4 minutes read
Posted 10 March, 2024
Screenshot 2024 03 10 130956

Jeff Hylton

By Jeff Hylton

I have lived in Queenstown since 1977, when the population was approximately 7,000 (give or take) but I left for greener pastures in the early days, because rents were high and wages low and one couldn’t get ahead. Australia paid more, but winters were something not to miss if you were addicted to snow. There wasn’t that much of it (snow), to be honest. No snow making and not much precipitation. The lifestyle and mountains were a draw, but the money wasn’t enough. Sound familiar?

I see people are still crying the same old cry. Too many people, not enough houses, traffic problems! We need a casino! (we know how that panned out). Affordable housing! Parking is a nightmare! Why is it so???

Well, if you were to look at the stories in the local newspapers from years gone by, the people who cared about the future were constantly pointing out the problems (and solutions) to those supposedly in charge of decision making.

So cut to 2024. Total chaos if you’re a commuter or visiting skier. Or a local who wants to go to work or golf or whatever. The cry for more housing, more subdivisions.

Let’s look at that for a second. People who want to live here but can only afford something within a very small budget. That's like saying I want to live in Byron Bay at the beach. Or Sydney waterfront. See any affordable houses there?

So, the call goes out for more houses, guess who buys the sections to build homes? The builders or building companies buy 80% and next thing a house and flat is a business opportunity. Investors or peeps already owning a home here now have two. Investors from out of town buy a couple and rent them out for as much as they can. Not much empathy when it comes to profits. So they are all taken, let’s put in more asap.

Next the council’s lack of growth control gets a roasting, which, by the way, goes way back. Then, they employ a consulting team to predict the population in 2030 or 2050. They get paid a hefty amount to choose a number, which was maybe 50,000? So, next thing we have Noel Lemmings and Harvey Normans etc. because it’s all business, why not jump on board. If there are going to be that many people, then let’s get busy!

Infrastructure! What? Oh yeah that. Roads? Let’s sort that when the time comes. One house equals two to 12 people, at one or two poos a day plus showers, and maybe two or three cars per house. The concept of a treatment plant that would cope with that amount of people (don’t forget the million visitors clogging up the roads and pipes) and get some roading sorted first, maybe allow for extra traffic and schools. Yeah? Nah.

I was not surprised when I read the article about the high school being nearly at capacity. We had a perfectly good school in Gorge Road, which could have been an intermediate school or additional school but no, now it’s more houses.

The bypass. The waste of money and lack of productivity is despicable. Each time I drive past that work site there are six people with clip boards, two leaning on fences, four on cell phones and maybe one person actually working. And then the unbelievable number of traffic control humans (on their phones, next to a zillion cones). If any of these people worked for me … well, they wouldn’t.

There are plenty of lame excuses, but the fact is, there are far too many consultants and supervisors and traffic controllers and cones and not much in the way of progress. I believe anywhere else in the free world these projects would be completed in half the time for half the cost. I see construction on roads in the States (for example) starting at 6pm when the roads are quieter. Then packed up by 5am and away they go.

Our roads are no longer clogged at peak hours but most of the day. The trip from Queenstown to Frankton can take 45 mins. Buses can’t move any faster. The ski season buses have people trapped for hours on the bus and then the roads are jammed till people turn around and go home.

We can’t make the mountains any bigger. We can’t stop people driving unless there is a better alternative.

So when the guys in suits said we need more people in our town, they have allowed this chaos to escalate and the solution was to plan ahead.

No one puts stock in a paddock before the fence goes up and the gate is secure, water in the trough etc. Pretty much says it all about the intellect of those in charge.

We could always do with another subdivision though, what’s the worst that could happen?


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