Camping bylaw faulted

The freedom camping bylaw introduced by the Dunedin City Council last year has done nothing to reduce the amount of rubbish on the Otago Peninsula, chairman of the Otago Peninsula Community Board John Bellamy says.

The bylaw was adopted in June last year and gives the council the power to fine campers without self-contained toilet facilities who stay overnight in areas where no facilities are provided.

Mr Bellamy said the bylaw was a "blunt instrument" and the money it cost to enforce would be better spent paying for facilities like toilets and rubbish bins.

There had not "been the slightest scrap of difference" in the amount of rubbish on the Otago Peninsula since the law was introduced.

Putting toilets and rubbish bins in places like Sandfly Bay was the better way to reduce the amount of rubbish and human waste left in the area, he said.

He said there were "a lot of myths" about freedom campers and it was important to remember that they were "guests to our country" and contributed to the economy like other tourists.

"In my experience there is probably more domestic rubbish lying around - including faeces - than there is from freedom campers,"he said.

Deputy chairwoman Christine Garey said she thought council staff were "doing their very best" to enforce the bylaw, but that they should not have to issue warnings before handing out fines.

Another issue was that it was "very difficult" for visitors to the country to find out what the rules were in different areas.

She said the council had been made aware of both her and the rest of the community board's concerns and it would air them again when the bylaw came up for review later this year.

Council reserves policy and planning officer Dolina Lee said the bylaw had been "working very well, from our perspective".

The council was happy with its policy giving people warnings and asking them to move on in the first instance, which had so far resulted in no-one being fined.

"For us that's a win win situation ...[which] continues to welcome visitors to the city without being high-handed." She said members of the community could present feedback on the bylaw when it came up for review.

The bylaw was coming up for review because it had to be redrafted to fit in with the Freedom Camping Bill passed by Parliament last August.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

 

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