Camp grounds could be leased

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The Waitaki District Council is considering whether to long-term lease seven of its Waitaki Lakes camping grounds as part of its review.

The review has looked into the management of the camp grounds and council is proposing to lease the sites to private providers for up to 21 years (with a right of renewal).

But it wants to hear what the community has to say first during a two-month period of public consultation.

Long-term leasing would create opportunities to develop the sites while still providing affordable facilities.

Recreation manager Erik van der Spek said council wanted to look at managing the grounds in the best way possible by maximising user enjoyment and, at the same time, minimising the ratepayer money that goes into it.

This option would allow for development whilst retaining their “Kiwi style” as well as letting the community have some control over the sites.

The review process started a couple of years ago with council asking property advisors to look at the situation and come back with the best option.

The advisors recommended long-term leasing rather than council putting more money into the sites, developing them directly or handing the land back to the Crown, which would mean the community would have less say in how they were run, Mr van der Spek said.

Under the proposal, seven camping grounds would be leased in three packages and the packages 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 would consist solely of Sailors Cutting and the final package would be made up of Falstone and Ohau C (depending on whether 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 because it’s further away, not as attractive to a leaseholder, not as strong to develop and more suited for DOC management from an ecological point of view, he said.

With the advice council has been given and anecdotal evidence, the recreation manager said he expects there will be a reasonable amount of interest from people wanting to lease the sites.

However, nothing will be decided until the consultation period has been completed and Mr van der Spek is encouraging people to voice their opinion regardless of whether or not they used the camping ground.

“This is an important issue and we want to hear from as many people as possible.

The consultation period is open for two months, giving people plenty of time to respond.”

People can speak directly to council representatives at the Oamaru Farmers Market on December 21 and special meetings can also be arranged on request.

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.

The consultation is open for two months, closing Friday, January 23, 2015.

While the consultation is now open, it does not affect the current camping season which is open until the first Sunday of May next year.

Tickets for the full season, casual camping and boat ramp tickets are available and can be purchased from our office in Oamaru or directly from camp supervisors.

Prices and other information can be found on the council website or by calling 433 0300.

By RUBY HARFIELD