Camps are ‘Kiwi culture’

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It may be up to two years before several camping grounds in the Waitaki lakes area can be leased to private operators.

At its meeting yesterday, the Waitaki District Council’s Community Services Committee recommended council place a moratorium on leasing Falstone, Sailors Cutting, Loch Laird, Wildlife Reserve, Otematata Boat Harbour and Parsons Rock camping areas for a period of two years, to enable council officers to initiate changes to improve management of lakes camping and to consider other opportunities.

The committee recommended the moratorium rather than seeking expressions of interest from private providers wanting to manage camping grounds.

The proposal to lease camps for as long as 21 years, was a sore point for many who submitted on council’s draft Waitaki Lakes Camping Management Plan, which attracted 158 submission when it went out for public consultation in November.

Submitters were worried about fee increases, the loss of a Kiwi- style camping feel, and loss of control among others.

Councillor June Slee said the moratorium needed to be in place for at least two years before council even considered leasing the camping grounds out.

“It’s Kiwi culture … we just can’t wipe that out.”

Cr Melanie Tavendale said a lot of money was spent on the proposal with “not a lot of accountability on how things are being done.”

She did not think council was in a position to lease camping grounds but should address management issues.

“This is a great opportunity to say this is what we are doing wrong … in two years’ time we will know if this is going to be a viable business opportunity.”

Mayor Gary Kircher said the majority of submissions “say please don’t change the way things are run now”.

It is expected council will adopt the plan, with amendments, at its meeting on April 1.

By Daniel Birchfield