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Queenstown's 2022 Mayoral Candidates: Their Thoughts On The Future Of Mountain Biking In Queenstown



With the mountain biking industry thriving in Queenstown, our biking community is seeking further support from QLDC to help with funding maintenance of local trails as well as supporting future trail development, infrastructure and events. We contacted all of the 2022 Mayoral Candidates to get their thoughts regarding some of the key challenges we face as a biking community. The responses we received are below:

Neeta Shetty: 1. What is your plan to make Queenstown a bike destination? This is what our young people have asked for. Queenstown as a bike destination is another feather on our glorious cap and sends out the right message of sustainability. I know many candidates both for councillors and community board members are keen on this idea, so as Mayor, I will encourage and support the idea to make it happen. 2. The club currently receives $30K annually from the council to help with trail maintenance.This year we asked for $140K which was declined. Nelson council supports their club with $390K and Rotorua council spending $500K to their trails trust. What would be your opinion on increasing funding to QMTBC? I have spoken incessantly of how we need to support our community activities whether it is through schools, sports, business, innovation, cultural and/or social with grants, funding, scholarships, awards, business opportunities, work experiences. I see these investments as an asset of our community. This is what will make investors want to invest in our region. This is what attracts residents and young people to want to live in, work in and fall in love with our region. If you build it, they will come. We need to build the right infrastructure and projects so we attract community-minded people to share our space. I am all for opening funding to aspiring community projects that enhance our economic diversity. 3. Nelson Council has supported a world enduro event with $166K per annum for 3 years. Rotorua council funds the Crankworx event with $75K and a bike festival $50K. Can you advise your position on helping QMTBC run local and international events to attract visitors to the region? I am in favour of the Queenstown Marathon and many such events that glorify the beauty of our region and add to our reputation of an incredible ski destination. As Mayor, I will encourage these events. I am surrounded by athletic and energetic students and these events would provide an opportunity for our young people. We recently won the high school cricket championship, but we don’t have a cricket club room. It is the first time we had an U13 all girls basketball team and they ranked second. We need to encourage and celebrate this achievement. To me, this is what community means where our young people have the stimulation and opportunities within our community. 4.The Gorge Road jump park area is currently in QLDC ownership and was nearly closed down to be used for a lay-down area for the town works. Do you support the park being transferred to Parks and Reserves to protect this community asset long term? 100%. I am the only candidate that comes as a community voice and this is exactly why I am standing. Development over community needs is unacceptable. My ethos is community-aligned. I want to see more community-led investments as it is my belief that the best investments are ones that benefit the community and these are successful. Take for example, Wanaka Wastebusters, the Event Centre or the Wanaka Recreational Centre. These are all very successful enterprises supported through community funding. 5.We have been invoiced $9,600 by QLDC for a resource consent for two new bike trails on Ben Lomond reserve - do you think this should be pro-bono work as we are providing an asset for the community? This really concerns me. I am not in favour of bureaucracy. I used to be a committee member on many sporting committees. We were advised by QLDC that if we wanted funding from QLDC, we would need a ‘Feasibility Report’. A Feasibility Report costs $20,000. This seemed preposterous considering we were a not-for-profit club that was run by volunteer parents. This out-of-touch, corporate stand from Council is not something I condone. This is why I am standing to promote community paradigms. I stand as a voice that supports community initiatives particularly at grass root levels as I see the potential these clubs have for our young people. As Mayor, I will be approachable and support initiatives that enhance the social fabric of our community.

 

Olivia Wensley: 1. What is your plan to make Queenstown a bike destination? The entire Southern Lakes region is already known internationally as the one of the worlds best biking destinations for all styles of riding with an amazing network of grade 1 and 2 trails for all and lift accessed Grade 5 and beyond which attracts the world's best riders over our summer. Unlike the winter ski industry where it's easy to count the number of users and revenue flows through the ski fields, biking is distributed with tourism revenue harder to measure. The Benje Patterson report released recently showed that biking was around 40% of winter sports but expected to continue to grow without the climate concerns of winter sports. It's time to formally have a biking strategy and I'd suggest creating a paid role inside Destination Queenstown to focus on and grow the biking opportunity for Queenstown and plan to get the first international events of the year here (at the end of our summer) to further build our international profile. I'd like to see a biking infrastructure in Queenstown that might include an assembly and packing area at the airport, a bike cleaning area downtown coupled with an events strategy to get the biggest global events like World Cups and Crankworx into Queenstown each year. Local hotels and businesses can help by providing bike storage, assembly and washing facilities. Then together we need to win the big national and global events.

2. The club currently receives $30K annually from the council to help with trail maintenance.This year we asked for $140K which was declined. Nelson council supports their club with $390K and Rotorua council spending $500K to their trails trust. What would be your opinion on increasing funding to QMTBC? When I am Mayor I commit to implementing a bike strategy for the Southern Lakes area (it's not just Queenstown) and ensure that biking has at least the same focus as the ski industry has by the council. This may include more funding from council but also build the business case for local businesses that benefit from biking as a primary tourism strategy to contribute to ensuring we have world class biking infrastructure for all types of riding. Unlike the winter sports industry where lift passes are easy to measure and count, the benefits of biking are distributed throughout our community. I'm very open to ideas about how biking could be better funded in our district. 3. Nelson Council has supported a world enduro event with $166K per annum for 3 years.Rotorua council funds the Crankworx event with $75K and a bike festival $50K. Can you advise your position on helping QMTBC run local and international events to attract visitors to the region? It's clear that biking is a massive opportunity for the Southern Lakes area and the results we have achieved are largely thanks to volunteers in our community and a few commercial organisations, like the ski areas, and donors who understand its potential. I think it's important that the council have a dedicated biking liaison person who will be responsible for the councils biking strategy and events to work with the many community biking organisations. That person would be responsible for creating a business case for further council investment but it feels like there is a good opportunity here with a good return for all local businesses and ratepayers. 4.The Gorge Road jump park area is currently in QLDC ownership and was nearly closed down to be used for a lay-down area for the town works. Do you support the park being transferred to Parks and Reserves to protect this community asset long term? I understand that Gorge Road was saved by a significant private donation and that Gorge Road is one of the major reasons top international bikers locate themselves in Queenstown over our summer. Gorge Road is a significant asset for our biking offering and a destination for the top riders globally that in turn promote Queenstown and Southern Lakes as a world class biking destination for all types of riding. It's been great to see so many female riders using Gorge Rd since it was improved last summer! The area can absolutely be enhanced to be safe and a world class facility for athletes and I expect that as the council creates a full biking strategy Gorge Road is an area that can be enhanced. 5.We have been invoiced $9,600 by QLDC for a resource consent for two new bike trails on Ben Lomond reserve - do you think this should be pro-bono work as we are providing an asset for the community? It appears that while the biking community has made good progress, the relationship between biking and the council has room for improvement. It's likely an education issue as biking is different from the winter sports industry as it does not have large commercial operators. Places like Bentonville in the USA and Derby in Tasmania demonstrate the benefits of biking as a primary tourism activity. There is such a great opportunity for biking in Southern Lakes to be as big if not bigger than the ski industry is now that we should give biking the same focus as winter sports. The difference is that biking does not have the commercial operators and the direct revenue flow the ski industry has so it's likely the council will have to take more of a lead in infrastructure and ensuring the biking community can attract national and international events that will benefit all people in town.

 

Jon Mitchell I have been an enthusiastic local mountain biker since I bought my first hardtail Giant back in 1991. My wife and I have been bike tourists in at least five different countries.


I love the development of mountain biking as both a means of active commuting and as recreation in the district and elsewhere. The trails that have been developed here over the past 20 years or so, speeding up rapidly in the past decade, on top of the awesome mining trails and farm tracks that we had to rely on prior to that, are an incredible asset to our communities and our economy. I am keen to ensure that QLDC does all that it can to facilitate more development like these in the future.


The growth of active transport and recreation is unstoppable and will be encouraged if I am elected mayor, mostly through the development of better urban access routes - such as two bike and pedestrian bridges across the Kawerau, connecting Lakes Hayes/Shotover Country and Hanley's Farm/Jack's Points to Kawerau Falls/Remarkables Park, and a bridge from Quail Rise to the industrial area enabling safe biking to school, shops, work, etc, from communities on the other side of the highway.


Active, longer-stay tourism, including biking of all sorts that are relevant locally, should be the focus of future marketing by our regional tourism organisations. In fact, I intend to make it a condition of continued funding through targeted rates to the RTOs if there is a reluctance to make that move, although I doubt that will be necessary.


To be fully frank, I have concerns about suggestions of a need for a stand-alone bike event and tourism promotion entity. If there is demand from the industry for one, then excellent, go ahead - I will support it. But it is definitely not the local authority's role to use ratepayer funds for promotion of that sort. We do not need yet another organisation with a "CEO" funded by the ratepayers, to support an organic economic development process that has been growing of its own accord and with its own talent and leadership. The last thing that we need is a proliferation of small, expensive bureaucracies, when all that we need in enhanced collaboration and leadership between the numerous stakeholder organisation.


As you may be aware, QLDC is projected to hit its borrowing cap in 2025 based on current planned expenditure - not taking into account the impact of an additional up to $200 million leaky building claim hit to the council's budget in June next year. The new council will have to immediately begin to revise the organisation's expenditure and rating-based income.


We need to focus on providing high-quality services and infrastructure to our communities, as we also work to avoid a return to the completely unsustainable pre-COVID mass tourism growth rates that practically no-one wants. All to protect the future social, cultural, environmental, and economic well-being of our communities. Providing the infrastructure for biking is an essential part of that.


 

Al Angus I have a question for you, any ideas how to wind back the mounting aggression between cyclists and walkers on the Kelvin peninsular track?


 

Glyn Lewers 1. What is your plan to make Queenstown a bike destination?

As a board member of Destination Queenstown, back in 2020 we commissioned a bike plan and it was released later in 2021. I am fully supportive of this plan, with special interest in establishing a meeting point for bike visitors and the local residents, plus the infrastructure required to improve both active and recreational bike activities 2. The club currently receives $30K annually from the council to help with trail maintenance.This year we asked for $140K which was declined. Nelson council supports their club with $390K and Rotorua council spending $500K to their trails trust. What would be your opinion on increasing funding to QMTBC? The current QLDC grants fund for FY2022 was $184,000, council received a requested amount of $610,360. As can be seen there were some hard decisions to be made. It is one of the toughest things councillors have to do every year in how to weigh up what group gets the limited available funds. Council received applications of funding from four different bike and trails groups, we usually decide on need, we were advised that the QTMBC received $1M so a decision was made to direct funds elsewhere. We still had groups that missed out such as Pivot Point that delivers help in assessing kids for neurodiversity. It has to be pointed out that Rotorua and Nelson have a far greater ratepayer base to source funds from. 3. Nelson Council has supported a world enduro event with $166K per annum for 3 years.Rotorua council funds the Crankworx event with $75K and a bike festival $50K. Can you advise your position on helping QMTBC run local and international events to attract visitors to the region? I would like to see the events office within QLDC to be more active in capturing events and bring them to the district rather than facilitate event inquiries. QLDC also have an events fund of which Crankworx was a beneficiary of this year. The event funding panel (4xcouncillors) have been the ones that recommend the funding allocation to full council, as Mayor I would be in agreement with the funding panel recommendations. 4.The Gorge Road jump park area is currently in QLDC ownership and was nearly closed down to be used for a lay-down area for the town works. Do you support the park being transferred to Parks and Reserves to protect this community asset long term? I assume that the request is to change the land status to a reserve under the Reserves Act. If so, that is a legal process that requires public consultation, so if there is always a risk that it could be repurposed for another use if the hearings panel see fit from public submissions. If the QTMBC is comfortable with that risk and the Community and Services Committee agree to proceed then it can be facilitated. 5.We have been invoiced $9,600 by QLDC for a resource consent for two new bike trails on Ben Lomond reserve - do you think this should be pro-bono work as we are providing an asset for the community? I agree you are providing assets to the community but not all of the community use the assets. this is reflected in the regulatory policy on fees where there is a 80% charge and a 20% district spread, which reflects the community asset weight in the question. It would require a change in QLDC policy for a full rebate to occur but then this would have to be a blanket across all community groups and this would have an effect on rates.

 

With voting closing on Saturday the 8th of October at 12pm, make sure you get your vote in before it closes! More information on all the 2022 Mayoral Candidates can be found here: https://www.qldc.govt.nz/your-council/elections/2022-local-election-candidates

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