Proposal to lease campsites

Camping grounds owned and operated by the Waitaki District Council could be handed to the private sector to manage, including popular summer destinations around the Waitaki lakes.

The council is preparing a draft reserves management plan for its camping grounds, after which it will seek expressions of interest from the private sectors for managing them.

This is in the preliminary stages and the draft plan will be put out for public consultation before any decisions are made.

Property manager Dougall McIntyre acknowledged it was a change from the current situation, but believed the private sector could manage the camps effectively in the long term as well as offer new activities from them.

The council is involved in running 19 camps around the district. Four are leased, seven are managed by a contractor (such as collecting rubbish and checking fees are paid), two are privately managed, three are managed by local committees and three are for freedom camping.

Last year, the council handed over management of the popular Ohau C and Falstone camping areas on Lake Benmore's Haldon arm to the neighbouring Aubrey family under a management agreement. That caused some controversy when the new managers introduced boat ramp launch fees for facilities that had been free.

Other camps are leased, such as the land for the Omarama Top 10, or managed by the community, such as the Duntroon Domain.

The council still manages the camping grounds at the Waitaki lakes, including Sailor's Cutting on Lake Benmore, Round Bush and Lake Ohau and Parson's Rock at Lake Aviemore.

Mr McIntyre said once the management plan had been completed and legal advice obtained, the council would call for expressions of interest in camping ground leases.

The decision to involve the private sector was made after a review of options for the sustainable management of the camping grounds.

That review concluded the council could move to a passive landlord role, encouraging private-sector involvement in management, which could lead to the creation of tourism opportunities and offer additional services to campers. In addition to leasing the management of some camping grounds, the council would withdraw from some smaller sites for cost reasons.

At present, Waitaki ratepayers subsidise camping and launching facilities around the lakes by about $90,000 a year.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

 

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