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Council To Test Camp Ground Role

Date: Thursday, 28 February 2013

Subject: Council To Test Camp Ground Role


The nature and scale of the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s role in the future operation of camp grounds will be reviewed based on revised principles, adopted at Tuesday’s full Council meeting, QLDC Mayor Vanessa van Uden said.

“A key expectation set by Council last year was for a review to be completed in 2013. The resulting report presented by Chief Executive Adam Feeley was considered this week,” Mayor van Uden said.

The review identified several issues and a number of recommendations, Mr Feeley said.

“In general the review found that financial performance is mixed and in some cases camps lose money and visitor accommodation is effectively being subsidised by ratepayers,” he said.

The report also questioned operational scope of some camp ground facilities which did not appear to be core Council business.

“Some of the ‘higher end’ holiday parks accommodation, although of an excellent standard, appears to be in direct competition with the private sector,” Mr Feeley said.

Although Council had agreed this week to consider reducing the scale and manner of Council operated camps, Mayor van Uden reiterated that Council remained committed to access for everyone to affordable camp grounds in the Lakes District.

“Council’s intention to provide traditional, affordable ‘kiwi’ camps, as identified in the 2005/06 review and revisited in 2011/12 has not waivered as a result of this week’s decision,” she said.

Grassed sites for tents and campervans with good standards of communal amenities were a Kiwi tradition which QLDC intended to maintain on a cost-effective basis.

“But we consider we are not in the business of providing high-end additional accommodation and services which are not cost-effective and which take revenue from rate-paying businesses,” she said.

Not only were some camps running at a loss but outstanding debt also had to be factored, Mr Feeley said.

“We have invested over $11 million of capital infrastructure to date in our District camp grounds, and it would not be prudent fiscal management to continue that investment when the ability to service greater debt would be, at best, financially marginal,” he said.

The Council elected on Tuesday to ensure that there were traditional Kiwi camping facilities in the District to provide affordable accommodation based on the following amended policy on provision of camping facilities:

• Council will not operate camping facilities which: (i) compete with equivalent or greater facilities being operated by the private sector; and (ii) require ratepayers to materially subsidise visitor accommodation in the District.

“The next step will involve a detailed report on a preferred option for the future and scale of Council’s involvement in campground management in the District to be completed before 30 June, 2013,” Mr Feeley said.

This would include recommendations to deliver:

• Reduced operational costs to those currently incurred at the four main holiday parks (Queenstown, Wanaka, Arrowtown, and Glendhu Bay), and, if viable, a commercial
arrangement for private provision of camping facilities at these sites.
• Continued provision of traditional ‘kiwi camping’ facilities at Albert Town and Lake Hawea.
• Rationalisation of existing commercial arrangements at Frankton, Luggate and Lake Outlet Wanaka.

The amended policy had been discussed with camp ground staff, who continued to be subject to the wider QLDC Organisational Review.

ENDS

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