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Western Bay Council Recieves funding for freedom camping
16 August 2018
Western Bay Council Recieves funding for freedom camping
Western Bay of Plenty District Council has been granted $340,000 to help manage freedom camping over the coming summer.
Council applied to Government for additional funding through the Tourism Facilities Development Grants Fund to manage and improve facilities and monitoring for the increasing numbers of freedom campers in the Western Bay District.
The funding is part of an $8.5 million funding package announced by Government this week for nationwide initiatives to be put in place in time for the coming summer.  Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber attributes Council staff for the substantial grant.  "This application for funding was a staff initiative to generate additional funding to meet the increasing needs of freedom camping in the Western Bay.
"Clearly the $340,000 is proof that we have put our case very well to Government.’’
Council’s Reserves and Facilities Manager Peter Watson says the $340,000 for the Western Bay is fantastic news. It will fund a KiwiCamp facility in Waihi Beach, plus increased District-wide monitoring and smart compactor bins at freedom camping sites. The KiwiCamp facility will be built by Christmas.
"The KiwiCamp facility provides showers, toilets, dishwashing and laundry facilities, access to potable water, waste and recycling, power charging and wireless internet - all in one place.
"The KiwiCamp model allows running costs to be recovered through a charge system – Kiwicash – a simple pay-as-you-go solution that gives campers great facilities – paid for by freedom campers,’’ says Peter.
"This will help us manage freedom camping in the Waihi Beach area which is where the greatest number of compliance issues arise for Council over the peak of summer.’’
There are 47 freedom camping sites across the District governed by Council’s Freedom Camping Bylaw which requires all freedom camping to be in self-contained vehicles. Council employs a security firm from October to March to monitor and ensure compliance with the bylaw.
Government’s funding results from a national working group’s report that highlights the place of freedom camping in New Zealand, its contribution to the tourism industry and ways it could be better managed this summer season and in the longer term through legislative changes.
The working group acknowledged the importance of protecting and retaining campers’ rights to access and use of public spaces but that the current system could be improved.
The $8.5 million funding will cover:
​infrastructure, education and enforcement projects identified and to be implemented by 28 councils across the country
Marketing and education managed by Tourism New Zealand to provide information to campers on expected behaviour.
A data and technology-driven pilot that will provide real-time updates on the availability of campsites in some important tourist destinations.