Fundraising for 'camping' fines begins

Glen Wallace
Glen Wallace
Queenstown's accidental freedom camper has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay the fines of others caught out by "bureaucratic overreach''.

Glen Wallace received a $200 freedom camping fine last month after sleeping in his vehicle in central Queenstown after a night out drinking with friends.

After a huge response on social media and in private messages after the Otago Daily Times covered his story, the Arrowtown web designer has launched a four-week fundraising campaign to pay the fines of others hit with freedom camping fines.

"For it to go viral as it has, I think it shows people have had a gutsful of bureaucracy.''

He had created a Givealittle page to accept donations and a Facebook page as a point of contact for people keen to be reimbursed for their freedom camping fines.

Both pages were called You'll Never Take Our Freedom.

"Whatever funds we raise will go back to the people who have had freedom camping fines in the past six months, so long as they can prove they're a ratepayer or provide proof of address.''

The funds would also be used to pay the wages of an administrator for the pages, and to reimburse himself $200 for his fine.

Any funds left over at the end of the campaign would be given to the Mental Health Foundation, he said.

Mr Wallace's fine was an example of rules that "overshot the mark'' and penalised residents and ratepayers.

He had expected the Queenstown Lakes District Council to waive it because he owned a home in the district, but was surprised to be told a "blanket rule'' applied and he would have to pay.

Not only did that send the wrong message about drink-driving, but also to people like Gore man Brayden Hardy, who told the ODT last week he was the sober driver for his mates' night out in Queenstown but received a fine when he pulled over to rest before driving home.

Mr Wallace said the council had told him drivers who wanted to pull over and sleep for a while were also breaking freedom camping rules.

"You can't sleep within 200m of a road - for more than 40 minutes - because it's classed as freedom camping.

"You've got to park in a designated rest stop, but that's ridiculous as well because if you're really tired, and that rest stop is another 5km drive away, that's when you're most likely to have an accident.''

Council regulatory manager Anthony Hall told the ODT last week it did use discretion for freedom camping fines in special circumstances, but did not consider someone not wanting to pay for a taxi home a special circumstance.

However, Mr Wallace said the council needed to soften its stance to reflect the reality of life.

People did not always act responsibly and make arrangements to get themselves home after a night out.



'Rules', not Laws? How is it enforceable? If a law, it's equally overreaching to go on a campaign over it.