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Hurunui District Council amends freedom camping bylaw

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

At the August council meeting, it was decided to amend the Hurunui Freedom Camping Bylaw. These amendments were based on public feedback collected during the council’s most recent freedom camping consultation.

This process of shaping a bylaw and finding the correct balance between the rights of residents and the rights of freedom campers is complex. The Freedom Camping Act 2011 permits freedom camping on all council land unless the council enacts a bylaw to restrict or prohibit freedom camping. In order to restrict or prohibit freedom camping, the council must have sufficient evidence that restricting or prohibiting in that area or location is necessary in order to: Protect the area

Protect the health and safety of people who may visit the area

Protect access to the area Council must also be able to show that ‘restricting or prohibiting’ is the most appropriate/proportionate response to any problems being experienced - that any problem could not be fixed by things like better signage, facilities or information.

During the meeting, it was decided: That the number of freedom campers allowed in Glenmark Reserve, Scargill Motunau Reserve and Hanmer Springs River Reserve will be restricted to ensure the toilets in these locations have sufficient capacity to cope with freedom campers as well as their existing community use.

That prohibiting freedom camping in Gore Bay and Hanmer Springs was not a proportionate response to the feedback received for these locations and that any further decisions about freedom camping in Hanmer Springs, Gore Bay and Cheviot be postponed until after the summer of 2019/20. Council expects its successful application for $144,000 worth of "responsible camping" funding- will allow for the collection of more evidence in these areas over this coming peak freedom camping season.

-This $144,000 of "responsible camping" funding is from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. It is going towards more monitoring, rubbish bins, signage and a freedom camping ambassador in the Hurunui.

That elected officials will receive monthly updates over this coming summer and will consider all the evidence again in April 2020. Chief Strategy and Community Officer, Judith Batchelor, said council is committed to ensuring the freedom camping bylaw is appropriate and effective. She explained the process of council’s response to freedom camping is ongoing.

"Councils are not able to make a bylaw that has the effect of completely prohibiting freedom camping and the Hurunui is a beautiful place, extremely appealing to tourists" she said. "Any restrictions on freedom camping must successfully protect our residents and district, but must also be justifiable in relation to the nature and scope of the problems being experienced and a reasonable restriction of a person’s rights".

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