21 Apr 2016

Freedom camping ban to be extended into 2017

7:54 pm on 21 April 2016

Freedom campers heading to Christchurch or Banks Peninsula next summer might have to think again, with a temporary ban extended to May next year.

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The Akaroa area has become a popular destination for freedom campers, and locals aren't happy. Photo: 123rf.com

After introducing a by-law that attempted to corral campers together at five spots, the Christchurch City Council found they were overwhelmed and closed all five.

A council committee today recommended extending a temporary ban on those without a toilet on board, until May next year.

French Farm Bay, near Akaroa, bore the brunt of last summer's problems including sewage in the harbour.

Local Jan Cook, who spoke at today's council meeting, said the by-law was never going to work.

"We've spoken to people down in the bay, they're lovely young people, they want to do the right thing.

"But when you've got so many people concentrated with no facilities of their own, night after night, 100 a night at French Farm, and they're washing their dishes, they're cooking, there's inevitably going to be conflict with other users."

Akaroa resident Suky Thompson told the committee extending the temporary ban was a good start, but in the long term she wanted to see an area-wide ban on camping without a toilet.

She warned that anything less was courting disaster because campers would simply move to another site.

"It could be right outside somebody's house, there could be any number of vans and the council has given itself no ability to move those people on.

"It has actually given those people a right to be there in unlimited numbers for an unlimited amount of time in any vehicle."

Ms Thompson went further and called for a ban on campervans being able to even park in the streets of Akaroa.

"You've got vehicles parked, for example, right in front of the museum, people can't even see there's a beautiful cottage behind there.

"The vans are parked in front of our old peoples' residences, completely blocking their view."

Councillor Ali Jones questioned whether the current by-law could be made to work and whether providing more toilets would make any difference.

Councillor Andrew Turner - who represents Banks Peninsula ratepayers - also backed an area-wide ban on those without a toilet on board.

He said even since the five freedom camping spots were closed down in March, campers had started turning up on other parts of the peninsula.

Today's recommendation from the council committee will be voted on by the full council in May.

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