Just like that it’s 2020 and a happy New Year to you all.
As Christmas has been and gone and we all start to get back in to a routine I hope you all enjoyed the festive season.
The holiday period always highlights the true destination Queenstown is, as people from near and far make their trip to our piece of paradise.
Our visitor numbers continue to grow, which is great for our town, but with it comes a need for more infrastructure.
While we have seen many improvements to our roading networks, there is still a lot more to be done.
In particular between Queenstown and Milford Sound, a road used daily by a large number of travellers.
We have seen many tragedies on this stretch of road, and while there have been safety improvements in rumble strips and barriers, more needs to be done.
The Government announced $1.4 billion in safety upgrades last year, which the South Island is receiving next to nothing of this funding.
The only project south of Ashburton on the list so far is between Dunedin and Port Chalmers.
The holiday period also highlights we have people who are struggling here in Queenstown, and while Happiness House and other organisations do a fantastic job the bigger issue is the cost-of-living.
I continue to advocate for zoning changes for the accommodation supplement here in Queenstown.
Shotover Country and Lakes Hayes Estate are in no way rural, and the rezoning would mean more money for rent for those who need it most.
A thumbs up to all of you though who donated to charity organisations before Christmas to help these very people.
I’m also lobbying for a toilet for the Ben Lomond Saddle.
More and more people are using the track daily.
In December I walked to the top of the summit to see how bad the problem is.
It was heart-wrenching seeing the amount of toilet paper strewn off the side of the track, but it also made it clear a toilet is needed.
The next day I took the trek again with a bag and pick-up stick and filled a couple of disposable bags with toilet paper.
Thirty-five thousand people use the track annually, doubling in the last four to five years.
We need a toilet on the saddle as soon as possible.
As we start to head in to the swing of things for 2020, I wish you all the best for this year.
For those of you finally getting a break after the silly season, enjoy – you deserve it.
For those of you still enjoying your holiday break – take care out there.
For the rest of you returning to work, I wish you all the best for 2020, and for those who haven’t yet managed to put their feet up, make sure you do when you can.