By YVONNE O’HARA
Ensuring there is sufficient and affordable housing is crucial for Wanaka, Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce chairman Alistair King says.
In addition to housing, he ranked effective immigration policies, water and the need for infrastructure as important election issues for the area.
He said Wanaka had consistently been one of the fastest-growing towns in New Zealand for both visitor and population growth.
“Given the predicted growth in Wanaka for people and businesses, ensuring people can afford to live in Wanaka is crucial to attracting both skilled and unskilled workers,” Mr King said.
“Addressing the lack of short and long-term affordable housing needs to be a key priority for Government, [as well as] recognising the diverse nature of Wanaka and working with local Government on solutions, including adaptive planning policies.”
The 2013 census showed Wanaka’s population grew by 28.5% between 2006 and 2013.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) predicts the residential population of Wanaka will exceed 14,000 by 2026, up from 7400 in 2015.
Recent QV figures showed median property values in Wanaka and Queenstown hit $1 million, rising 30% in one year, while Wanaka’s property prices were expected to rise by about 9% a year in the future.
Mr King said said ensuring there was “sufficient and adaptable infrastructure that can sustain this influx is crucial to the success of our communities and businesses”.
“It’s essential that central Government works with local government and other agencies such as Doc and NZ Transport Agency to ensure we grow in a sustainable manner and are well set up to cope with the demand in a sustainable manner.”
Another key election issue was the need for effective immigration policies.
“As a chamber we support policies to increase not only the average wage but also wages for skilled and unskilled workers.”
He said the recent changes to the Government’s proposed immigration policy, which included lowering the salary threshold for migrant workers, was welcomed as he previously had concerns the proposal could mean small businesses would struggle to fill vacancies.
The chamber would expect central Government to work with it to ensure a well-educated and diverse workforce and recognise the diversity of the southern lakes region.
Water quality – or lack thereof – could have a major impact on tourism in the future if not addressed now, he said.
“New Zealand and Wanaka prides itself on the quality of our lakes and rivers.
“Ensuring everyone who lives and visits our town understands the implications of their own actions in ensuring water quality is key,” he said.
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