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Whanganui Midweek - 2021-10-13

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Freedom camping bylaw puts restrictions on campers

Home & Garden

Whanganui District Council’s Policy and Bylaw Committee heard public submissions on its proposed freedom camping bylaw on Wednesday, September 29, and has voted that the council should adopt the bylaw. The freedom camping bylaw limits how long freedom campers can stay at any one site to no more than four nights in a four-week period. The bylaw also restricts the number of freedom camping spots at sites and includes buffer zones — where camping is not allowed — around freedom camping sites. As part of their deliberations, the committee decided to prohibit freedom camping from Blyth St and Pukenamu Drive in order to protect these important Whanganui locations. The council’s group manager corporate, Stephanie Macdonald-Rose, says while the council wants primarily to encourage visitors to make use of the excellent commercial campgrounds in the district, the bylaw introduces regulation where Whanganui has had none to date. “The bylaw doesn’t propose to severely restrict freedom camping in the same way councils in other parts of the country have done, as we are not seeing the same volume of campers visiting the Whanganui district,” she says. “The council hopes that the bylaw will help to reduce the community concerns that we have heard, particularly about the potential general untidiness and litter that may be associated with freedom camping, as it will allow campers less time at any one site to spread out.” There has been community concern on the issue of homelessness. The council’s community wellbeing manager, and council officer on Safer Whanganui, Lauren Tamehana, says, “Where homelessness is identified, the council is working with key agencies to connect people with agencies that could help them, including the Ministry of Social Development.”

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