Waitaki Herald : January 14th 2015
Wednesday January 14, 2015 HERALD WAITAKI DROUGHT COMING? Page 8 Campgrounds in focus M By DANIEL BIRCHFIELD email@example.com ore than 70 people attended a recent meeting in Otematata to voice their views on proposed changes to the way the Waitaki District Council manages its camping grounds. Council manages several camp- ing grounds in the Waitaki lakes area from Lake Waitaki to Lake Ohau, such as those at Parsons Rock, Wildlife Reserve, Sailors Cutting, Ohau C, Boat Harbour, Loch Laird and Falstone. It proposes to enter into long- term contracts or lease camping areas to private providers for up to 21 years Council sees benefits such as enabling Kiwi-style camping opportunities and maximising enjoyment and use while minimising ratepayer subsidy. Ratepayers currently subsidise the cost of running councilmanaged camping grounds to the tune of between $25,000 and $125,000 annually. Council also hopes the proposal, if accepted, would provide opportunities to develop the camping grounds in a sustainable way while protecting the natural, cultural and recreational values they provide. There is serious concern among users that if taken over by private providers, the ‘‘Kiwi-style’’ of the camping grounds would be lost. However, some also feel work needs to be done to upgrade certain facilities at the camps. Council’s proposal states camps can be improved and developed by up to 25 per cent, with the rest of the area remaining the same. That could include improve- ments to camp kitchens, coinoperated laundries, communal lounge areas, tourist cabins, small-scale backpacker lodges and children’s playgrounds. Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher attended the meeting along with council recreation manager Erik van der Spek. Kircher said he would like the camps to retain their current feel. ‘‘We want to protect the access to ‘Kiwi camping’; the ability to go somewhere without a lot of facilities and at a reasonable cost to enjoy the outdoors. ‘‘The cost to users must remain reasonable. I actually believe, with the right operator, that the cost to campers could go down. The council is not an efficient SUMMER OF DIY-Garden Care GREAT VALUE Fitted Hose Hozelock Quality hard wearing hose with fittings. 15 metre. 10 year warranty. 240315 $2798 238283 Available from Wednesday January 14th till Tuesday 20th January 2015. While stocks last. OAMARU operator due to costly overheads which have to be covered. Private enterprise does not have the same costs.’’ He said council wants to see a good number people continue to use the camps, as it benefited the Waitaki Valley’s residents and businesses economically and that it was essential campers kept wanting to come back. ‘‘Any operator needs to have a good track record of providing good service to their customers. We want people to enjoy their experience. Holiday spot: Waitaki Valley residents are concerned the appeal of council-owned camping grounds, such as Loch Laird, will be diminished if the Waitaki District Council’s proposed plan to privatise them come to fruition. ‘‘We want to ensure our existing private camp operators remain competitive and continue to have good businesses. We already have some very good operators of fullservice camps or holiday parks through the valley, and we value the contribution they make to employment and the economy of the district.’’ After considering public submissions that close on January 23, he said council will decide the best way forward, which may include looking at other options as opposed to private ownership. 2-Way Plastic Tap with Shut-off Valve Jobmate EXCLUSIVE 89 $989 2 Hour Water Timer Number 8 Automatically switches off irrigation. Time from 15 minutes to 2 hour Plastic. fits 12mm hose. 238258 EXCLUSIVE $8 Cnr Cross & Severn Streets Cnr Cross & Severn Streets, Oamaru , Oamaru Phone 03 434 9860 Phone 03 434 9860 Photo: SUPPLIED ‘‘At the end of the process, if we cannot be assured of all or most of these things, we will need to look at other options. As a few people pointed out at the meeting, there are other models which could still improve the current situation and we may end up going for one of those. Once we hear and consider submissions, we will have a decision to make.’’ Submission hearings are sched- uled for February 4, while a decision on the adoption of the proposed plan will be made at council’s meeting on April 1.
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