Campers’ habits a ‘philosophical issue’
A “philosophical issue’’ exists regarding summer campers in motorhomes that are not self-contained, Gisborne district councillors were told this week.
GDC director of liveable communities Andrew White was speaking about the Public Conveniences Plan, at a meeting of the community development and services committee. The committee recommended the plan be adopted by the full council.
Councillor Shannon Dowsing said the council should consider providing dish-washing facilities at freedom camping sites.
He accepted freedom campers were supposed to be self-contained but said ‘‘we’re not discussing good motorhome owners”.
There were campers who washed their dishes in the river.
Director of transformation and relationships Keita Kohere said cultural appropriateness needed to be considered.
Mr Dowsing said the council had generated the problem with its camping policy. It was not providing the infrastructure required.
Mr White said the council faced a philosophical issue of whether to provide for lawful freedom campers or for unlawful or non-self-contained campers.
Larry Foster said the region had been inundated with summer and freedom campers and council facilities were struggling to cope.
Mr White said there would be significant capital costs in providing more public conveniences for campers but “the direct hit on the ratepayer through operating those facilities” was more concerning.
Mr Foster said there was confusion between summer and freedom camping.
There were those who paid for permits (summer campers) and those who didn’t (freedom campers), which created anomalies and ‘‘some pretty unhappy people”.
Mr Dowsing said the purpose of infrastructure was to ensure the social values (such as clubs using ramps), cultural values and environmental values were maintained.
Ratepayers saw the downturn in those values from “the bad behaviour of others”.
It could be worth it to “stem back” that bad behaviour through “a small investment in infrastructure”.
Committee chairman Andy Cranston said unscheduled maintenance costs were $188,000 a year (including emptying septic tanks and extra refills of water tanks). Was that cost going up and was it handled in the budget?
Mr White said the council spent close to $1 million annually on public conveniences.
It still received complaints about toilet cleanliness. It was possible for someone to “make a mess” five minutes after contractors had cleaned the toilet. Much of the $188,000 for unscheduled maintenance costs came from that kind of thing.
Mr White said the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association had adopted a design for a waste station at its motorhome park at the former AML site in Pacific Street. The council had agreed to provide land and a connection to the sewer only.
But the association, which was going through the consenting process, had mistakenly thought the council would fund the $150,000 project.
The association had been told “in the last week’’ that had never been the case.
The council would support an application to the Government’s Tourism Infrastructure Fund (which is available for carparks, freedom camping facilities, sewerage, water and transport projects).
Mr White said the association could charge user fees to recover costs.
The Public Conveniences Plan has undergone public consultation and covers the council’s 75 public conveniences — 31 in the city, 26 rural-based and another 18 that can be used for events. It also includes 10 outside showers, 21 drinking fountains, 21 outdoor taps and four hand-wash stations.