Why upgrade our streetscape now?

March 8 2021 by Jim Boult

Why upgrade our streetscape now?

There’s been quite a lot of comment lately about the timing of the work currently underway to upgrade our streetscapes. There are those who are saying that business is tough enough at the present time without digging up the streets.

Let me explain the reasoning behind this.

Firstly, Council has consulted widely on the Queenstown Town Centre Transformation. It was work the community deemed vital for the sustainability of CBD businesses as well as our overall attractiveness for locals and as a destination. The work will transform the Queenstown Town Centre into a more inviting, family friendly and accessible space and will feature improved walking and cycling facilities providing a continuous link from the Queenstown Gardens to the Gondola.   

Our community, notably including the business community, wants this work done. Doing it at a time when business is generally quiet makes for less disruption and faster timeframes to complete the work, thereby shortening any disruption.

Secondly, we need to remember where much of the money is coming from to pay for these works. Council successfully negotiated with Central Government under the ‘Shovel Ready’ program to get $35M towards this project, money which otherwise would have had to be drawn from local ratepayers. The availability of this money clearly makes this an opportunity too good to miss and a great deal of the eligibility criteria was focused on projects that were ready to go.

Finally, an undertaking has been made by the project directors to wherever possible use local sub-contractors and to support economic development through the creation of opportunities in the local job market. So while many of the benefits for businesses in the CBD will be delivered in the medium term, there are businesses benefitting right now who have a steady work stream and whom are hiring local people.

I sympathise greatly with those businesses presently frustrated by the works, and by a lack of customers. Rest assured, Council will do its absolute best, working with our contracting team, to get this work done quickly, efficiently and with the least impact on local business possible. The outcome will be a high quality, accessible and attractive town centre that functions efficiently and effectively for our residents and visitors.

- Jim Boult