Community, Council

Freedom camper money making plans amuse

Council parks and open spaces manager Jane Tito says the council wanted to provide a “safer option” in Ward. Photo: Chloe Ranford/LDR.

Rural township residents are laughing off suggestions a new freedom camping site will bring in money.

About 30 Ward residents burst into laughter at a meeting last week after a Marlborough District Council staffer suggested freedom campers’ cash would benefit the town.

Ward is one of three new sites proposed under the council’s draft freedom camping bylaw.

But despite overwhelming opposition for the site, Ward farmer John Hickman took a one-man stand at the meeting.

John had earlier emailed members of local community group, the Flaxbourne Settlers Association, calling for residents not to “throw up barriers.”

“I just want everyone to keep an open mind,” he says.

But local mechanic Mike Hole says he objected to his taxes funding other people’s holidays.

The proposed campsite was located by a creek damage during the 2016 quake and which flooded in extreme weather, he says.

Council released its draft bylaw earlier this month, which included a Marlborough-wide ban on freedom campers that were not self-contained.

The bylaw would restrict freedom camping in Blenheim, Renwick and Picton to designated sites.

But in Ward, campers would still be allowed to park up anywhere. Rai Valley was the same.

Council parks and open spaces manager Jane Tito says the council wanted to provide a “safer option” in Ward, instead of having campers parked along the state highway.

Council staffers advised they were not documenting people’s opinions and asked the meeting’s attendees to submit on the proposed bylaw before the deadline of September 7, at 5pm.

It was recommended residents outline where they felt freedom camping should be banned in Ward, while Kaikōura MP, National’s Stuart Smith, suggested the community put forward an alternative site.

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

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