Council Gears up to Meet Summer Freedom Camping Challenges
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’ earlier this week. 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.
Council is proposing a graduated enforcement approach where enforcement officers have discretion to decide which enforcement tool is best to help prevent noncompliance in the future. This can include issuing a formal warning, issuing a $200 infringement fine, seizing any equipment used in the offence or seeking a court order or prosecuting the offender. The proposed approach allows an enforcement response based on the individual circumstances of the case including the seriousness of the harm and attitude to compliance.
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.”
As well as the bylaw, an education and research plan for the summer is being developed. “Some of the funding will be used to carry out detailed research into benefits and costs that freedom campers bring to our district, and the community and business perception of them. This will really help council and the community to understand how to work with campers to get the best outcomes for everyone.”
Council established a Responsible Camping Working Group and called for public involvement in June 2018 and in February 2019 agreed to create a Freedom Camping Bylaw. Full information about the proposed bylaw including the statement of proposal, draft bylaw and an interactive map showing all proposed rules and controls can be found on the council website.
Notes for editors:
Bylaw powers and fit with legislation.
Under the Freedom camping Act 2011 bylaws cannot control freedom camping on private land or land which KDC does not control from Example NZTA allows drivers resting or sleeping at the roadside in a caravan or motor vehicle to avoid fatigue.
Under the Freedom camping Act 2011 freedom camping can only be restricted through the bylaw for one or more of the following reasons;
• To protect the area;
• To protect the health and safety of people who may visit the area; and
• To protect access to the area.
And for the avoidance of doubt a local authority may not make bylaws under section 11 that have the effect of prohibiting freedom camping in all the local authority areas in its district
Timing of bylaw adoption.
If the nature of the submissions results in the need to make substantial changes to the draft bylaw, or a legal challenge is received, the bylaw will have to be revised and re-notified. Hearings and adoption of the bylaw will be rescheduled accordingly. Dates may also be amended at the discretion of the incoming council.
Responsible camping working group
Following several years of varied attempts to manage the issue, the Kaikōura Responsible Camping Working Group (KRCWG) was established in July 2018. The group was tasked to improve the Kaikōura District’s management of responsible camping. The working group provides the opportunity for membership from; Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura , Department of Conservation, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Transport Agency, Kiwi Rail, Canterbury District Health Board, Environment Canterbury, Kaikōura Youth Council, Kaikōura Coastal Marine Guardians, New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, Kaikōura Board Riders, Kaikōura Camping Ground Representatives, Nga Uri O Mangāmāunu, CamperMate, Kaikōura Tramping Club, Kaikōura Forest and Bird and Community Representatives.
Alignment with work to protect the Kiwa road area
A separate project is underway to develop a masterplan for the Kiwa Road area. Although separate, the work is materially impacted by the outcome of the bylaw. Work on the masterplan on the master plan is continuing with input from iwi..