Local News

Council Freedom Camping Update

0 Comments 02 December 2016

Potential pilot for freedom camping

What you need to know

I received this from Councillor Linda Cooper this evening

Over the last few days, a number of emails have been circulating among Local Board members on a potential freedom camping pilot. The information circulated to Local Board members last week was not completely clear on the opportunities for Local Board input or the time frames for the potential pilot, and we apologise for any confusion this may have caused.

Because of this, we want to clarify these points and respond to some of the concerns raised over the last week.

Is the potential pilot going ahead without local board agreement?

• Not at all. Our intention is to discuss options with Local Boards, nothing more.
• We know there are issues and risks and we welcome the opportunity to talk to you about them.

Why are staff talking to you about a potential pilot?

• Some Local Board members and their communities have been telling us that, over summer, freedom camping is a problem, that it’s getting worse, we’re not doing enough and what we are doing is not working.
• Compliance and enforcement staff agree, which is why staff are looking into ways to be more proactive and to get ahead of the issue before it gets any worse.
• The potential pilot looks at a region-wide solution.
• We know this has risks for areas currently not experiencing problems.
• You have our commitment that the pilot will not proceed at sites without your agreement.

Why are discussions with Local Boards only happening now?

• This is the start. We want the Local Boards’ free and frank views on the risks and issues before it goes anywhere else.
• Between the Local Body elections and summer starting, we have been working to a tight timeframe. However, we are anticipating more freedom campers this summer and more issues, so we think now is a good time to consider running the pilot.

Are Parks and Facilities staff approving the locations on behalf of the Local Boards?

• Not at all. Council staff are working in collaboration so that we could bring the discussion of a potential pilot to the Local Boards.
• Staff have been working together to identify possible sites for Local Boards to look at and approve.
• If a Local Board doesn’t agree to a proposed park/open space site, it will not be included in the pilot.

Additional information

What is the potential pilot?

• We have freedom camping issues every summer and we want to “front-foot” this issue and not be reactive this summer.
• There is potential to provide more sites to address current problems. We know there is a risk of spreading the problem more widely, which is why we want to talk to Local Boards.

Why has the media been reporting on the issue?

• Staff haven’t released any information proactively to the media, however we have responded to media requests for comment on this topic.
• Staff circulated the memo and information pack on freedom camping to Local Boards in order to start the conversation.

Are there risks associated with the potential pilot?

• Yes. In areas where freedom camping is currently not a problem, Local Boards agreeing to accommodate freedom campers may alleviate the problem in one area but increase the issue in another.
• Staff have identified risk mitigation strategies to discuss with Local Boards, including how to remove sites that are not working.

Will there be any benefits for your community?

•Instead of freedom camping happening anywhere, we are trying to direct freedom campers to clearly identified and controlled sites, which will enable the improved management of activities.
• The potential pilot of more sites intends to reduce the number of freedom campers in a single area and reduce issues associated with overcrowding. This would lead to fewer complaints about overcrowding and non-compliance.

What are the benefits to the region?

• There may be some indirect benefits to local businesses as a result of the freedom camping pilot project.
• Staff estimate that in a ‘typical’ February, domestic and international freedom campers are spending as much as $1.2m in Auckland (excluding vehicle hire and air travel).
• The potential pilot intends to deter negative behaviour over the upcoming summer period by applying a proactive management approach. In particular, the pilot would help to disperse campers from popular sites to other more suitable areas across the region.

What happens if the pilot doesn’t go ahead?

• Staff will continue to manage issues associated with freedom camping using a reactive approach when complaints are received.
• We would look to take additional steps to manage issues proactively in a problem site.

ENDS

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