Surprise suggestions for freedom camping

The Hibiscus & Bays Local Board is attempting to restrict freedom camping to as few sites on the Coast as possible, as Auckland Council works on its Freedom Camping bylaw, which could come into force this summer.

Last month the local board rejected the majority of the sites (four out of seven) that Council staff proposed as suitable for freedom camping in self-contained vehicles, restricted to identified parking spaces.

Hibiscus & Bays Local Board chair Julia Parfitt said she was surprised at some of the options put forward, which included Duncansby Lookout & Esplanade Reserve in Stanmore Bay, the Orewa Library car park, Red Beach Lookout Reserve (at Vista Motu) and Victor Eaves Park in Orewa.

The local board also rejected all the areas that Council’s draft suggested were suitable for freedom camping within current reserve management rules – including Edith Hopper Park in Manly, Cooper-Lea Reserve in Stanmore Bay, Kinloch Reserve in Orewa, Little Manly Beach Reserve, Manly Park (Laurence St) and Silverdale Reserve.

The local board is seeking that all those options be prohibited from freedom camping, suggesting that only the Hammerhead at Gulf Harbour, Hatfields Beach Recreation Reserve and the seaward side of Stanmore Bay Park were suitable.

It supported Council’s recommendation that the practice be prohibited at another 24 sites within the local board area, which include Arundel Reserve and Orewa Reserve where there have been problems in recent summers.

Mrs Parfitt said that given the experiences the community has had with freedom camping to date, suggestions like the library car park and coastal sites in Manly seemed totally unsuitable, particularly as they are right near homes and in areas where car parking is needed and well used by the community.
She says she hopes that Council will take the feedback on board, because of the history of issues and complaints in this area related to freedom camping.

A further problem could be enforcement of any new rules. Mrs Parfitt says that Council has suggested that with the new bylaw will come the ability to impose fines and better enforcement, however members are not confident of that.

The draft bylaw will be presented to Council’s Regulatory Committee next month. If adopted, it will go out for full public consultation in September and the final bylaw could be adopted in December.


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