Freedom at a cost

Camping ground owners must be considered before more sites are opened to freedom campers, Dunedin city councillor Andrew Whiley says.

Cr Whiley said he had concerns with allowing more sites for freedom campers in Dunedin, such as Walton Park, because it would financially hurt camping ground owners, who paid rates and created jobs.

''These people are assets to our community and we have to find a compromise that will work for the community.''

Camping ground owners helped showcase Dunedin by providing local knowledge.

''They become the ambassadors to the city and help tourists spend more money in the city,'' he said.

The council providing more resources for freedom campers would be unfair to camping ground owners, he said.

Companies hiring camper vans were buying more vans so more freedom campers would be coming, he said.

''This is only going in one direction and we have to be conscious of that.''

The number of campers using the Macandrew Bay facilities went beyond the number the trial allowed and the same would happen in Brighton, he said.

He was not a supporter of freedom camping in suburban areas such as Walton Park and would investigate how welcoming other New Zealand cities were to freedom campers.

Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall said the board remained supportive of the freedom camping trial but wanted greater management of it.

He would represent the board on a subcommittee to address further development of more sites.

A ''stocktake'' of possible freedom camping sites was being undertaken by the council.

Each was being rated for parking, toilet facilities and impact on the community.

Mr Weatherall said Walton Park had toilets and appropriate parking for freedom campers.

''If the council proposed that would be a site, we would want to ensure there was consultation with the directly affected neighbours and the wider community.''


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