Camping bylaw draconian, elitest
by Ieme de Wolf
The following are questions and observations put to the council regarding its “Freedom” Camping bylaw.
The Freedom Camping “survey” was skewed — it had a predetermined agenda, leading questions and no opportunity for input. It also had a very low response rate, 341 respondents.
Where is the social impact research/data? Who is impacted by changes and how? Are changes measured? Where is the environmental research/data? What was the baseline? What is the council trying to achieve? Has the long-term impact been considered?
Also, what is the economic impact of this proposal? Was the business community consulted? Local industry research shows a reliance on itinerant or seasonal workers, often skilled, sometimes living in vehicles. They maintain farms, plant, prune and harvest, and provide tourism and volunteer services. Backpackers bring qualifications, skills and motivation to work. How does the council propose to fill the void when these workers are excluded from our region?
There is also an impact on lifestyles. Dear reader, have you been freedom camping in a tent or non-self-contained vehicle? Why change the quintessential affordable Kiwi holiday? Hop in the car and pull up somewhere for a play/swim/rest.
Is this a plan by some to ban “Freedom” Camping for all? How many of us can afford a self-contained vehicle?
Maybe the council could invest in services like more restrooms, rubbish collection, etc — otherwise the problems will not go away, even under this draconian new bylaw.
The proposed “Freedom” Camping Bylaw is elitist. If you can afford a self-contained vehicle, GDC welcomes you. If not, don’t bother.
The proposed Freedom Camping Bylaw discriminates. It makes unjustified distinctions between human beings based on whether they can afford a self-contained vehicle or not.
It can also be described as racist, as it further marginalises a group of people who are already marginalised.
Without camping, what holiday options are left for those on low incomes?
A paragraph from the “Freedom” Camping Bylaw: “4.3. There are issues surrounding freedom camping such as the homeless and itinerant or seasonal workers living in vehicles, which are beyond the scope of a Freedom Camping Bylaw to address. These issues have wider economic and social origins and while the Freedom Camping Act 2011 contributes to these issues, the Freedom Camping Bylaw is not a capable nor suitable mechanism for managing them.”
Why introduce a new bylaw when you acknowledge you can’t even deal with the issues under the existing law? Yet, the people mentioned in this paragraph are legally impacted by this proposed bylaw.
We need to acknowledge that some people’s cars are their homes. This bylaw makes their stay unlawful. Will GDC fine, prosecute and pursue them through the courts if they are unable to comply/pay?
I believe the council has obligations under the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Article 12 — No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
How does GDC make the distinction between/or identify people living in cars and travelling in non-self-contained vehicles? Apparently enforcement officers “know” everyone. Seriously? Who makes the decision who is “homeless” or living in their car? How would the enforcement officer prove this in a court of law?
This is an ill-considered bylaw. Protect our Kiwi holidays, and the dignity and mana of homeless people; support local industries and organisations. Protect GDC, its staff, councillors and our rates from potential litigation. Stop elitism, discrimination and racism.
I have asked the attending councillors to be champions for human rights and ratepayers, and vote against this “Freedom” Camping Bylaw.