Un­cer­tainty over Ki­wiCamp site

Waihi Leader - - News - By ME­LANIE CAMOIN news@wai­hileader.co.nz

Re­sponses to the new free­dom camp­ing fa­cil­ity Ki­wiCamp’s tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion at Waihi Beach have been mixed.

Western Bay of Plenty District has de­cided to change the lo­ca­tion of the pro­posed camp — orig­i­nally a Seaforth Road carpark near Bowen­town.

Ki­wiCamp is a move­able pre­fab­ri­cated build­ing with toi­lets, bath­room, dish­wash­ing and laun­dry fa­cil­i­ties, show­ers, ac­cess to drink­ing wa­ter, waste and re­cy­cling ar­eas, de­vice charg­ing and ac­cess to wire­less in­ter­net. The pro­posed lo­ca­tion, de­scribed as tem­po­rary by Coun­cil, would be the Waihi Beach Com­mu­nity Cen­tre carpark. Fa­cil­i­ties will be user pays — but the toi­lets will be free for campers and the pub­lic.

The Waihi Beach Com­mu­nity Cen­tre Com­mit­tee is wor­ried that ex­tra campers will clut­ter the carpark, es­pe­cially dur­ing sum­mer events at the cen­tre.

“We un­der­stand that we do not own the carpark, just the build­ing, but coun­cil’s de­ci­sion was taken with­out any con­sul­ta­tion with our com­mit­tee,” com­mit­tee chair­woman Niria Ger­bich says.

Coun­cil met last Thurs­day and opted for the new site “deemed with the least amount of con­straints”.

“Where will peo­ple park dur­ing our sum­mer events such as our An­tiques Road­show, An­tique and Col­lectable fair and Art ex­hi­bi­tion in Jan­uary? We also have the gypsy fair in De­cem­ber,” Niria Ger­bich says. She is not against the con­cept of a Ki­wiCamp.

Coun­cil says it does not an­tic­i­pate any sig­nif­i­cant change to the cur­rent use of carparks, as the size of the ap­proved free­dom camp­ing area will re­main the same.

“The free­dom camp­ing carpark sites are not des­ig­nated specif­i­cally for free­dom campers, there­fore they re­main avail­able for use by peo­ple at­tend­ing an event at the Com­mu­nity Cen­tre. Ef­fec­tively the pub­lic carpark is avail­able on a first-in/first-served ba­sis,” re­serves and fa­cil­i­ties man­ager Peter Wat­son says.

He says Coun­cil would be happy to con­sider park­ing in the grassed area be­hind the hall in case of over­flow due to events.

Five sites for Ki­wiCamps have been con­sid­ered prior to the new pro­posed one for the sum­mer pe­riod — two in Waihi Beach, and in moko­roa, Wairoa Rd and Te Puna.

Lo­cal hapu¯ ob­jected to the orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion and an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal au­thor­ity from Her­itage NZ is needed as well as con­sent, due to District Plan re­quire­ments.

“Coun­cil did ex­pect pub­lic com­ment for any site iden­ti­fied, how­ever, the main is­sue for not se­lect­ing this site re­lated to the abil­ity for Coun­cil to ob­tain the nec­es­sary con­sents in time for the early De­cem­ber in­stal­la­tion dead­line as a con­di­tion of the Gov­ern­ment grant.

“Given the im­posed dead­line, it was con­sid­ered un­likely that the dead­line could be met. The grant was ef­fec­tively a ‘use it or lose it’ ap­proach by Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment for re­ceiv­ing the grant,” Peter says.

Western Ward Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (WWRRA) also said it is con­cerned with the fi­nanc­ing of the camp.

Coun­cil re­ceived a $340,000 grant from the Min­istry of Busi­ness In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment, with $200,000 to go to­wards build­ing the fa­cil­ity.

The rest of the grant — $60,000 — is to be used for in­stalling SmartBins in the district and $80,000 for in­creased se­cu­rity mon­i­tor­ing.

If the Bowen­town site was cho­sen, Coun­cil es­ti­mated ex­pen­di­ture between $71,000 to $115,000 for site en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign, arche­o­log­i­cal as­sess­ment, con­nec­tion to power and wa­ter and build­ing of a plat­form.

This un­bud­geted ex­pen­di­ture will not be cov­ered by the grant, and will come from the Gen­eral Rate Re­serve Ac­count.

“Why is Coun­cil us­ing ratepay­ers’ money to sub­sidise a fa­cil­ity that will com­pete with estab­lished camp­ing grounds and laun­dro­mats which pay rates and/or rents to Coun­cil?” it said.

The fa­cil­ity would be at Waihi Beach for only a cou­ple of months over sum­mer, WWRRA sec­re­tary Keith Hay says.

Coun­cil has not ruled out the Bowen­town op­tion long-term and the lo­ca­tion of the camp will be re­viewed next year.

Peter says that Coun­cil has ap­proved up to $40,000.00 for the in­stal­la­tion of ser­vices, wa­ter, sewer con­nec­tion.

“The $200,000 grant pays for the ac­tual build­ing and con­nec­tion to ser­vices. Coun­cil will be the owner of the fa­cil­ity,” he says.

For Ki­wiCamp direc­tor Chris Wag­ner, Coun­cil has “a very hard job” try­ing to ac­com­mo­date ev­ery­one.

“Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tions have a pat­tern of com­plain­ing about free­dom camp­ing.

“We have seen sim­i­lar com­ments in the Tas­man District. Some peo­ple can find change scary,” he says.

Chris says that the orig­i­nal Ki­wiCamp lo­ca­tion was his pre­ferred choice too.

“Mov­ing the camp to the Com­mu­nity Cen­tre carpark is just for a trial to help as­sess how the con­cept is work­ing, if it cre­ates new prob­lems or fixes them.

“It is a so­lu­tion for free­dom camp­ing. It might not be per­fect but at least ac­tion is taken,” he says.

Chris says the ad­van­tage of the Ki­wiCamp is the se­cu­rity it brings to the area.

“With our sys­tem, users have to pro­vide an ID, like their pass­port, that we keep on file, mean­ing we can ac­tu­ally track down who is stay­ing where in a spe­cific time.”

Coun­cil says the site has been se­lected on a trial ba­sis over the sum­mer, and Ki­wiCamp could in the fu­ture be moved to other busy free­dom camp­ing spots — such as Te Puke dur­ing ki­wifruit har­vest sea­son.

“The fa­cil­ity is re­lo­cat­able, there­fore the in­tent is to re­lo­cate the fa­cil­ity at the end of the trial pe­riod, at which point in time the trial out­comes will be re­viewed in March 2019,” Peter says.

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