Otago Regional Council Candidate statement
My primary reason for standing for the Otago Regional Council is in order to assist with the transport planning in the region.
I have grown up in this area, and have a deep understanding of local issues, as well as a great deal of experience in the transport industry - both land transport with Kiwi Shuttles and aviation with Glenorchy Air. I live in Frankton near Queenstown Airport with my partner Simone and our two year old son, George.
I am a graduate of Otago University, and Otago ratepayer with the necessary wide ranging skills to benefit the region.
Aside from New Zealand, I have also traveled and worked in America, England and South Korea. This gives me an international perspective on the transport and environmental issues we face in the Southern Lakes/Central area.
I started the Night Bus (late night/early morning bus service) in order to give people a low cost method of getting home safely, late at night.
My representation on the regional council will improve your quality of life in Otago.
Top 5 Issues
- Public Transport
Queenstown now has a bus service subsidised by the Otago Regional Council, but instead of decreasing fares, the service has been expanded to wealthier areas which don't require a bus service, such as Kelvin Heights and Quail Rise. The ORC has spent 1.6 million of your dollars on creating this service, however these buses regularly run empty.
• Fares on the main routes in Queenstown should be reduced by using the funding from the new routes which aren't patronised.
• Buses should keep going from outlying areas into town without requiring a transfer at the Frankton Bus shelter.
• Cromwell, Alexandra and Wanaka don't have a bus service but could potentially do with one. This should be looked into.
- One lane bridge replacement
There are a number of one lane bridges in the area which need to be replaced - particularly the Kawarau Bridge, over which a huge amount of traffic passes. There are also bridges at Arthur's Point over which an increasing amount of traffic passes.
• It would be more cost effective to make the existing Kawarau bridge two lanes, rather than attempt to build a new bridge.
• The Edith Cavell Bridge at Arthurs Point needs an additional bridge to be constructed nearby to provide another lane for traffic.
- Creation of a more direct route to Central Otago from Dunedin
Although the physical distance between Queenstown and Invercargill and Queenstown and Dunedin are both about 170km's it takes about an hour longer to drive between Dunedin and Queenstown and it is about 280km's by road. The reason for this is that the road is not direct between Dunedin and Queenstown because you have to go via Milton.
• It would change the entire regional dynamics if a more direct route could be opened up between Queenstown/Central Otago and Dunedin.
• Such a route could go though the Old Dunstan Road, which was how the early miners reached Central Otago from Dunedin.
• Improving travel times between Central Otago and Dunedin would mean that people in Central Otago could more easily access the base hospital in Dunedin.
• Transport costs could be brought down and there would be a huge saving in fuel.
• In the future a more direct route from Dunedin to Queenstown/Central Otago would mean that larger jets could come into Dunedin and tourists come up to Queenstown/Central Otago. (Queenstown Airport can only accommodate jets up to 737 size.)
• There is precedent for sealing the Dunstan Road in the sealing of the Crown Range road between Wanaka and Queenstown, which was a high road that opened up a faster route between the two areas and revitialised Cardrona.
- Management of Lake Wakatipu
In 1999 Queenstown suffered devastating flooding. At this time I witnessed water from the Shotover River flowing into Lake Wakatipu. Flooding like this (or worse) could happen at any time. If the gates on the Kawarau bridge had been closed the flooding in Queenstown would have been reduced and if the sills under the bridge had been lowered to their natural level there would have been less water in the lake to start off with anyway.
• The gates on the Kawarau bridge should be closed when the Shotover is backing up into it.
• The sills under the gates should be lowered and the lake allowed to be at it's original lower level during summer to reduce the risk of flooding.
• Some gates could be lowered so that the Lake is slightly higher in winter to avoid mudflats forming in the Frankton Arm.
• Lowering lake Wakatipu during summer would mean that there was more storage, and less water flowing down stream to Alexandra and beyond during a flood event.
- Streamlining of services
The actual reason for the existence of regional councils is unclear. In many case their services could be provided equally well by local councils. In some cases their work actually conflicts with that of local councils. For instance the Regional Council subsidises bus services between Queenstown Airport and Queenstown, whereas the local council owned airport company charges the bus money to operate at the airport.
Because of the distance between Queenstown Lakes District/Central Otago and Dunedin it would really be alot better if the Regional Council could be split between the lowlands Otago area near the coast, and the highlands away from it. This could be done by expanding the offices for the regional council in Alexandra and Queenstown rather than having everything directed from Dunedin. The rapidly increasing population of Queenstown Lakes District/Central Otago compared to Dunedin also make this desirable.
• Expand Regional Council services in the Queenstown Lakes District/Central Otago area.
• Look at working more closely with local councils on Regional Council policies and issues.
Authorised by Andrew Rutherford of 55a McBride Street Queenstown