Responsible Camping Bylaw out for consultation

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Kaikōura District Council is a step closer to introducing a bylaw to help control freedom camping in the district following a unanimous decision by councillors to adopt a draft ‘Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw’ at the August Council meeting.

Public submissions on the draft bylaw will open on 11 September for a month with a goal of adopting the final bylaw by late November 2019.

Developing the draft bylaw has been a long road says CEO Angela Oosthuizen, “This draft bylaw is a critical part of building a toolbox that helps our community manage the impacts of freedom camping on our environment, our community and our businesses. Freedom camping is an important part of our local economy but the issues we’ve seen over the last few years have made it clear we must find a way to protect our home from those who behave badly and leave rubbish, human waste or environmental damage behind them. This bylaw will make it easier for visitors and residents alike to camp responsibly.”

“A huge amount of work has been done by the Responsible Camping Working Group and Council to get us this far. This includes securing over $250,000 from central government to help cover the costs of developing the bylaw and the costs of enforcing it in the first year” she said.

The draft bylaw outlines controls around camping on all Council owned or managed land. The bylaw proposes; limiting freedom camping throughout the district to self-contained camping; prohibiting freedom camping in most residential and business areas, except in designated ‘restricted areas’ where self-contained vehicles are permitted for a maximum of one night in a four week period; and allowing freedom camping in all other Council controlled areas for a maximum of two nights in any four week period. 

“We believe the bylaw as proposed does a good job of protecting some of the most significant areas in Kaikōura while complying with the Freedom Camping act and allowing some camping in a controlled and reasonable way. The bylaw allocates a total of fifty-four parks for campers at restricted sites across the district. Twenty of those unavailable from mid-August to February to protect the pohowera birds that nest in the area. Developing the bylaw through the working group means that at every step we’ve heard the voices of tangata whenua, businesses, youth, our community and the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association and other key stakeholders.”

Prohibited areas in the proposed bylaw include; the entire Kaikōura Township, the South Bay Corner with SH1, the cemetery, Point Kean, the Esplanade, South Bay Parade, Moa St. Car parks at Boat Harbour, Wakatu Quay, Kiwa Road (Mangāmāunu), South Bay Reserve and the council controlled land within the coastal Strip from South Bay Parade until the Kowhai River.

Restricted areas where self-contained vehicles are permitted for a maximum of one night in a four week period include; the West End car park (maximum 5 vehicles), Jimmy Armers Beach (maximum 6 vehicles) the Lion’s Pool on the Esplanade (maximum 5 vehicles), Kaikōura Lookout (maximum 3 vehicles), Scarborough St. Reserve (maximum 10 vehicles), Southend Railway Station Carpark (maximum 5 vehicles), Pohowera (maximum of 20 vehicles, site closed  between 15 August and the last day in February of the following year).

The draft bylaw also allows Council to issue fines of $200 each for any of the offence listed under section 12. This includes behaviours such as using public facilities to wash dishes, hanging out laundry or defecating in public.

Early in 2019, Council successfully secured over $250,000 from the government to support work around responsible freedom camping this summer.  When the bylaw is introduced, this funding will allow council to employ, train and equip enforcement officer(s) for this summer, install signs across the district in key areas to help educate campers and control behaviours, make minor improvements to some of the designated responsible freedom camping sites to help control the environmental impact and behaviour of campers, cover the costs of any clean ups of human waste or dumped rubbish and fund portaloos if/when required.

“This funding will significantly reduce the costs to ratepayers of ensuring the bylaw is successful,” said Oosthuizen, “it will allow us to install good signs, hire staff to ensure people follow the rules and make sure the areas we allocate for camping are set up for success.”

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30 August 2019