April 16 2018 by Bethany G. Rogers – Geordie Off-Shore
The last two weeks of fuss over the Queenstown jump park goes to show we have a very passionate local community.
When mountain bikers and jump park enthusiasts in Queenstown and further afield heard that the Gorge Road site’s days may be numbered, there was a loud (if not a little misguided) response. The jump park has operated on council land under a Licence to Occupy for ten years. The latest license will expire in April 2019 and the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) and Queenstown Mountain Bike Club (QMTBC) are working together to ensure the jump park has a future – though this may be on an alternate site.
It’s a tricky situation, and one which has arisen with several cultural communities within the region when the new draft 10-year plan was announced. Queenstown Lakes is the fastest growing region in New Zealand. The population has tripled since the early eighties and with that comes a whole host of growing pains and new responsibilities. The buzz typically surrounds infrastructure and housing provision and affordability.
These are undoubtedly important issues, but it can mean that more intangible areas of our community are unaccounted for. Finding space and funds for the arts, culture and sports communities often come second to more pressing and arguably important issues. The ten-year plan seemed to ‘gloss’ over the cultural needs of our community, possibly because figuring out what the community wants and needs is difficult to ascertain.
Queenstown needs to build stronger connections with its community to thrive and stay liveable. Many people accuse Queenstown of being ‘touristy’ and this is perhaps evidence that we’re losing touch with the cultural fabric of our community under the pressure of the tourism machine and its demands. While the tourism industry sustains the cash flow of the town, profitability shouldn’t be the heart and soul of a town. We should be able to balance work and leisure
QMTBC and QLDC working together to find a new home for the jump parks is a great example of this. Yes, the Gorge Road site in question will inevitably be swallowed by the growing CBD, but a solution can be found. Similarly, a small group of passionate locals and philanthropists have banded together and enlisted the assistance of AEA Consulting to plan the future of our arts and culture community. AEA Consulting have assisted communities around the world, in cities like New York, London, and Edinburgh to find ways in which cultural activities can be supported and developed alongside the more ‘practical’ aspects of town life.
We’re so lucky to have passionate groups and organisations like this and it’s great the council are taking the time to listen. Because even if the infrastructure was perfect and the houses were affordable, who would want to live in a soul-less town?
Bethany G. Rogers – Geordie Off-Shore