Convention centre gets nod

A marathon district council session yesterday resulted in progress on Queenstown's proposed $50 million convention centre - but with caveats ensuring displaced renters are not left homeless.

The big agenda item of the last Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting this year was whether a recommendation to accept a master plan enabling a convention centre with mixed commercial public and residential use would be voted on.

The recommendation was eventually passed.

At stake was the final shape of the convention centre's trading and operating structure.

The council agreed to pursue two main options, the first model being that an operator - SkyCity being the favoured partner - would run the centre and profit-share with the council. Under the second option the council would retain ownership and bring in private managers.

Included in the recommendation was that a formal approach be made to the Government for investment, and that the path be cleared for a council-initiated rezoning to allow for smooth resource consent processes.

However, councillor Cath Gilmour proved to be a watchdog on behalf of the 300 residents who currently live on the Lakeview site in small, 60s-era leasehold cabins.

"They are some of the most vulnerable people in our community," she said. It was generally acknowledged many were immigrants or working in very low-wage jobs.

She said they would have to move if the convention centre went ahead, but the council had a "moral obligation" to ensure they had somewhere else to go - which would be tough in Queenstown's cut-throat rental market.

Cr Gilmour's persistence resulted in an amendment that affordable housing should be included in the development principles of the convention centre.

The Southland Times