Ex-mayor Cooper pans convention centre plans
Former district mayor Warren Cooper yesterday said a convention centre in Queenstown could be a "huge albatross".
Speaking during a public forum, Mr Cooper told councillors there were too many unknowns and the project did not have a big enough heartbeat.
He said the backers of the council proposal were "vested interests" and Ngai Tahu, one of the mooted partners, did not have a clue.
"The big heartbeat was a cardiac arrest for a lot of the ratepayers. Yes we need a convention centre but we need to explore the options that are there to get the private sector to do it.
"This is not the time, there's not the strength to test many [aspects] of what could be a huge albatross, the biggest white elephant we have seen in Central Otago."
Council chief executive Adam Feeley said discussions with central Government in terms of the scope of the proposal provided the basis to approach the Government for funding.
"The conference market generally is looking for some certainty out of New Zealand. It's giving the market steer that Queenstown . . . that Queenstown Lakes District Council is committed to leading that development to get it off the ground."
Mayor Vanessa van Uden said it was important to make clear that the council was not proposing an unconditional commitment to a centre.
"We are trying to make a milestone along the path. I think in general a lot of the commercial sector are happy to go forward with this, they want us to make progress and are willing to pay to some degree."
Councillor John Mann said the key was mitigating the risk to ratepayers, who may be asked to contribute to the convention centre proposal through rates.
"We need to advance this thing and have a good look, we owe it to the community . . . Let's take it to the next stage."
Reports will be heard by a newly elected council at a meeting on November 30.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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