More detail for camping plan

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Significant detail may have to be added to the Waitaki District Council’s Waitaki Lakes Camping Plan, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Verbal submissions were heard at the council’s Community Services Committee meeting yesterday where seven people voiced their views on the proposal.

In total, 158 written and verbal submissions were received before public consultation closed on January 23.

The majority expressed concerns around camping areas being leased out to private operators for a maximum of 21 years and the possibility of up to 25% of the land being built on up to a height of 10 metres.

Campers made up 60% of those who submitted, 14% were day users and 36% said they were both. Four per cent had never used camping facilities, while 3% provided no comment.

Only 30% of submitters were Waitaki district ratepayers.

A total of 59% of submitters either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the leasing plan, while 23% said they strongly agreed or agreed. Thirteen per cent were neutral and 5% provided no comment.

Fifty two per cent disagreed with a proposed mixed management system, with 27% in favour. Sixteen per cent provided no comment.

The overwhelming majority of submitters, 70%, favoured a user-pays system for boat ramps and dump stations.

Speaking on the proposal, Oamaru’s Nichol Reid was against camping areas being leased out and was concerned about the effect construction work would have on tenting areas.

“Potentially we could have motels built on the water’s edge … one of the major issues building in these areas is that you need sheltered areas. It would move people in tents to the upper areas, which are unsheltered. That would be a significant change for people.”

Kerry Daniel feared the proposal would mean camping areas would lose their “unique use and charm”.

“I think we shouldn’t commercialise the area around the lakes at all … the Kiwi way of camping won’t be available any more.”

He also voiced concerns around the council’s intention to lease camping areas and believed they should continue to be subsidised.

“Unfortunately, paying for services within our rating system that we do not use is just one of the other modern-day community requirements.”

Julie Hamilton was concerned not enough information has been provided for people to make reasoned submissions.

Bill Pile, who has fished and water skied at Sailors Cutting since 1958, was angry about all aspects of the proposal.

“It’s a family affair. We don’t want you people poking your nose in. I hope the lakes stay as they are.”

Ben Aubrey, who has managed the Ohau C and Falstone camps for the past five years, supported leasing and said the cost of upgrading the camps was “way beyond” ratepayers.

“In my view, each camp should be separate.”

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the submissions had given council information to work with and a lot of detail needed to be discussed and potentially added to the proposal.

Council discussed issues raised at a workshop yesterday. It will deliberate at its meeting on February 11 and another committee meeting on March 18.

The proposal is expected to be adopted on April 1.

By Daniel Birchfield