LocalMatters       

Call to ditch freedom camping bylaw

Posted at 12:42pm Tuesday 04 Jun, 2019

Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers is calling for Auckland Council's proposed new freedom camping bylaw to be withdrawn and rewritten, saying in its current form it will strip parks and reserves of protection and allow unrestricted camping on residential streets.

“I'm distraught that most Aucklanders don't realise the bylaw opens it up for people to live in vehicles at 87 parks across Auckland and many are next to children's playgrounds, which are currently protected from such activity,” he says.

“Council's plan to allow freedom camping on parks and reserves which are currently protected under the Reserves Act from allowing people to live in them is wrong.”

He says the bylaw will also allow unlimited and unrestricted access for campers to park and live on any street which doesn't have parking restrictions, a fact that was omitted from public consultation material when the bylaw was open for feedback between December and February.

He has asked Mayor Phil Goff to take the bylaw off the table for further consultation and revision or risk it being defeated by councillors when they meet this month. Almost 2700 submissions were made to Council during the public consultation period between December and February, more than 520 of which came from Omaha where three new freedom camping sites are proposed.

“The majority of submitters do not want more Freedom Camping sites in Auckland and all residential streets opened up,” Cr Sayers said. “It's arrogant how Council continuously takes no notice of public submissions.

“This is a last ditch effort to have the proposed bylaw deferred.”

However, Cr Sayers said he had heard nothing from the Mayor as Mahurangi Matters went to press, and added that a freedom camping hearings panel on May 30 chose to ignore the “overwhelming” number of requests to stop the three Omaha sites and prohibit freedom camping at Mathesons Bay.

Local Boards have also criticised Council for not giving them enough time to read and discuss the public feedback before having to make their official submission. Rodney Local Board deputy chair Phelan Pirrie said freedom camping was a big issue for the area and the Board was obliged to report.

“There's considerable disappointment from some places like Omaha,” he said at last month's Board meeting. “We're fronting and taking the flak, but the governing body is denying us the opportunity to respond.”

Council has always maintained that under the 2011 Freedom Camping Act, it could not simply ban freedom camping everywhere, but could only prohibit or restrict it to protect particular places and access to them.

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