Note: This article was written by Simon Hartley and first published by Inside Resources on 27 May 2020. It has been republished with permission.
More than 800 ‘shovel-ready’ projects – out of a total 1,924 submissions – are under consideration by the Government’s Infrastructure Reference Group, according to Queenstown Lakes District Council’s mayor Jim Boult.
It appears about 58 per cent, or 1,122 prospective projects, have been culled by the IRG, to create its first shortlist ‘’for consideration’’.
Nationwide, there are billions of dollars of work at stake to rejuvenate regional economies.
The construction and infrastructure sectors and councils countrywide are clamouring for the IRG to release its decisions on apportioning $800 million to underpin regional economic recovery with so-called shovel ready’ projects worth $10m each which could be started within six months.
No IRG update has been released since it outlined criteria for applications. Applications closed in mid-April and the 1924 submissions received covered about 40 sectors and have a combined value of $136 billion. Boult says of the submissions IRG received, 802 of them have gone forward for further consideration, but there is no specific timeframe for project confirmation.
Civil Contractors NZ chief executive officer Peter Silcock told Inside Resources today the Queenstown district projects were the first he had heard of being considered by the IRG.
“We’ve heard that other projects will be announced this week or next week,’’ he says.
There are reports that in the Waikato, 18 of the region's 23 shovel-ready project applications had made the first cut, toward further assessment.
Important to select the right projects
On the question of whether the IRG is moving fast enough, Silcock says “the sooner the better.”
However, he says it’s important to do a thorough job to select the right projects, not just in terms of shovel readiness but also public benefit beyond creating employment.
More than 800 projects is a large number to work through, but Silcock says hopefully the IRG will progress some of the front-runners’ before final decisions are made on all the projects.
“The important thing is to get some of these projects up and running,” he says. “We need the economic activity and employment, particularly out in the regions.’’
Five Queenstown district projects welcomed
Boult is pleased to hear from the IRG that five local projects are being considered, but cautioned no decisions about their ultimate future had been made yet.
“It’s great to hear these projects are continuing to be considered for funding.’’
QLDC’s proposal will potentially unlock more than $300m in infrastructure projects across the district through spending by central government, council, iwi and private interests, Boult says.
Inside Resources understands other projects around Otago, including a council-controlled company, have been formally turned down for funding.
Right project mix – CCNZ
Silcock says the IRG has picked the right sort of infrastructure projects to back around the Queenstown district.
“Yes, upgrading our waste-water systems and community infrastructure are worthy projects that create employment, improve environmental outcomes and create lasting community benefits,’’ Silcock says.
With the current downturn in tourism numbers, Silcock says now is the time and the opportunity to be working on Queenstown’s transport and roading systems – described by some as outdated, neglected and impractical.
Queenstown district looking for $1b in economic benefits
QLDC is hoping to kick-start the district’s economy with the Government funded projects, bringing in over 1600 jobs and upwards of $1 billion in economic benefits.
More than 8000 people have requested financial assistance around the district since the Alert Level 4 lockdown.
Boult said the council is requesting $68m from the Crown Infrastructure Partners’ shovel-ready fund, overseen by the IRG, for key infrastructure projects around the district.
If fully supported, Boult says this will unlock more than $500m of planned and accelerated investment across QLDC and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, including up to $180m investment into the Queenstown arterial roads.
Queenstown district projects accepted for further consideration
The five Queenstown district projects are the Cardrona Wastewater Project, upgrades and facilities for the Queenstown Events Centre, Wānaka Lakefront enhancement, and the Queenstown Town Centre transformation, which includes the Queenstown Street Upgrades and the Queenstown Arterials projects.
“There’s plenty of time to go and many decisions to be made,” Boult says.
If the projects are accepted, they’ll play an important role in supporting the district as it rebounds from the lockdown, bringing employment opportunities and boosting the local economy, he says.