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HomeGeneral TourismQueenstown says ‘no’ to responsible campers but ‘yes’ to responsible camping funding

Queenstown says ‘no’ to responsible campers but ‘yes’ to responsible camping funding

How can a council that has effectively banned responsible camping throughout its district believe it is entitled to millions of dollars in funding which the Government has specifically earmarked for improving facilities for responsible campers?

That’s the question which Bruce Lochore, CEO of the 92,000-member New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is asking in the wake of last week’s unanimous decision by the Queenstown Lakes District Council to roll over its prohibitive Freedom Camping bylaw.

“The government has invested more than $3.6m in Queenstown’s public infrastructure and other resources to support responsible camping, however immediately after they receive this funding, the council move to effectively ban all freedom camping across the district,” says Bruce.

“For example, QLDC requested money for two camping hubs and $2.4m for eight new public toilets which were meant to provide responsible camping sites and address problems with freedom camping at other sites. Under Queenstown’s new freedom camping bylaw the hubs no longer permit responsible camping and the eight areas where the toilets are to be built also prohibit camping.

“I think there’s a very good case for clawback of the money the council has received to be redistributed to the neighbouring areas who will bear the brunt of Queenstown’s decision.”
Announcing that the NZMCA is to seek a High Court judicial review of QLDC’s new bylaw, Bruce says the council had shown ‘absolute contempt for proper process, resulting in a prohibitive bylaw that undermines their inter-agency responsible camping strategy and the Freedom Camping Act 2011.

“The Act required Queenstown to undertake a full review of their bylaw and the council also committed to undertaking district-wide site-by-site assessments as part of their strategy,” he says.

“The council clearly hasn’t done that, they’ve simply rolled over their existing bylaw and made it more prohibitive, without considering the impact on the vast majority of responsible campers.

“The whole review and consultation process feels like a complete sham, further evidenced by Mayor Jim Boult announcing a preference for a total ban and the council advertising in their summer communication to visitors the new prohibited areas, prior to concluding the review.
“And on top of that there’s absolutely no proportionality (as the Act requires) in a bylaw which effectively prohibits responsible camping throughout the district.

“The Mayor has said himself that it’s only 10 per cent of visitors who cause all the problems but the council still wants to welcome the 90 per cent of responsible campers who are fine. That sentiment and proportionality is not reflected at all in the bylaw.”

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