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KMB supports intent of freedom camping bylaw

July 18th, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

The Keep Motueka Beautiful group has made a supportive submission to Council's draft Freedom Camping Bylaw, three weeks before submissions close.

In particular, it applauds the proposal to ban freedom camping at the Port Motueka inlet mouth car park and restrict it in Beach Reserve, near the saltwater pool.

KMB also is happy about the use of Decks Reserve for freedom camping overnight, but is concerned about enforcing vans to move on in the morning.

Another area of concern is the adequacy of public toilets in those areas.

The draft bylaw proposes to restrict freedom camping to self-contained vehicles only at Motueka Beach Reserve, but to permit it at Decks Reserve Car Park from 6pm – 7am Monday – Saturday, and 6pm – 6am Sundays; and at Alexander Bluff Road Reserve, Ngatimoti.

Apart from that, TDC proposes to ban freedom camping at all cemeteries, most reserves, parks and playgrounds, residential areas with a speed limit less than 70kmh, the river side of stopbanks, and anywhere it might obstruct traffic. (See our earlier story.)

In its submission, KMB chairman John Fisher said that over the past three or so years ... Keep Motueka Beautiful has been actively involved in landscaping and generally improving the environment in the area of Motueka Beach Reserve and George/East Quay.

"The intention has been to make these areas more usable to the people of Motueka in particular as recreation spaces they can be proud of and use, along with visitors to the area," he said.

"At George Quay (east of Talley's fishing wharf) KMB's local consultation made it quite clear that people wanted good access to the Eastern end so that, in addition to general access, they could take elderly and infirm relatives there to admire the view etcetra.

"It is surprising the number of people who specifically mentioned that latter aspect. It is very important locally."

KMB completed the curbing and shingling of the parking area later last year, along with the creation of a perimeter path and positioning of two picnic tables.

John said the result turned out to be "great for freedom Campers but a disaster for Motueka residents".

"Freedom Campers totally took over the area all summer, parking in such a way that they took over the picnic tables for their own private use and made use of the perimeter walkway difficult to near impossible.

"For several months, until the camping season started to do slow down, Motueka residents were effectively barred from their own coastal facility.

"Not only were they barred by a relatively small group of Freedom Campers but other visitors were denied access to enjoy the view, picnic and walk on the foreshore."

There are also no toilet/wash facilities at George Quay. For these reasons, "KMB strongly supports the Draft Freedom Camping Bylaw 2017 proposal to designate George Quay, Motueka as an area where freedom camping is prohibited".

At Motueka Beach Reserve, throughout summer, the area has been jam packed with motorhomes and KMB said there has been a general public health issue in that "the toilet/washing facilities there are barely adequate for the day users of the saltwater baths and those having a picnic in the area, let alone all the supposedly self-contained campervans".

"The current facilities are totally inadequate for the present demand. The number of motorhomes visiting the area is not going to reduce. The District is seriously lacking in suitable facilities to cater for the current influx now let alone the future.

"It is appreciated that there has been a tightening up of the definition of a self-contained motorhome, but that definition is being very loosely interpreted and monitoring/enforcement is going to be an issue further downstream. It needs to be addressed."

He added that the toilet and washing facilities at Beach Reserve are "totally inadequate and their improvement needs to be seriously addressed. Additionally, the numbers using the area needs to be controlled".

While supporting the designation of Decks Reserve Car Park as an area where freedom camping is permitted between specified times, KMB said that "there is a need to upgrade the toilet/wash facilities at the reserve".

"They are barely adequate for current demand let alone any increase. Additionally, it is one thing to designate times but unless actively monitored and properly enforced they will be ignored."

KMB would "strongly urged" TDC, in enacting the bylaw, to ensure that it "makes adequate provision for its requirements to be properly monitored and enforced. Failure to do so would mean that the issues it is supposed to address will not be resolved."

Submissions to the draft bylaw will close on August 11. You can have your say here at TDC's website.

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