Camp ground consultation closing soon

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With just over a week until submissions close, the Waitaki District Council is urging people to express their views on proposed changes in the way Waitaki lakes camping grounds are managed.

WDC announced in November it would consider long-term leasing seven of its camp grounds as part of a review into how they are run.

The proposal included leasing the sites to private providers for up to 21 years (with a right of renewal).

Recreation manager Erik van der Spek said leasing the camping grounds would lessen the burden on ratepayers who currently subside the cost of their management.

“This is an important issue and we have already seen quite a lot of people make submissions expressing their opinions on the proposal.

“The camping grounds have been very popular with Kiwi families for many years so it’s important that as many people as possible, whether they use the camping grounds or not, let us know what they think about the proposed changes.”

So far there had been about 27 submissions made before Christmas with a number of new submissions coming in this year, he said.

A meeting held in Otematata last week was also well attended with about 75 people there and Mr van der Spek is hoping to receive submissions from some of those people.

The recreation manager wanted to encourage more people, including non-users, to have their say because the camping grounds are a significant part of the district.

Many users have been interested and had their say but 80 per cent of camp-goers are from outside the district and it’s Waitaki ratepayers who subsides the camping activity in the area by up to $125,000 a year.

Under the proposal, seven camping grounds would be leased in three packages which could then be leased on their own or as a whole.

The first package would include Parsons Rock, Boat Harbour, Wildlife Reserve and Loch Laird.

The second solely Sailors Cutting and the third Falstone and Ohau C (depending on whether the council can get permission from the Crown to lease Ohau C).

It is also proposed Lake Middleton would be returned back to the Department of Conservation to manage.

The period of consultation has been open for nearly two months and ends on Friday, January 23.

All information relating to the review can be found at www.waitaki.govt.nz, at public libraries throughout the district and at council offices in Oamaru and Palmerston.

By Ruby Harfield

PHOTO:┬áCAROL EDWARDS –┬áCampers enjoying a day at Loch Laird earlier this month.