Back to the drawing board for Freedom Camping bylaw

Auckland Council has done a complete 360° turn on its Freedom Camping bylaw proposals, deciding to leave things as they are while staff prepare a completely new proposal.

The process of developing a freedom camping bylaw under the Freedom Camping Act 2011 began two years ago. The bylaw’s aim was to enable proactive management and enforcement of freedom camping in Auckland.

The rules that apply in various parts of Auckland were to be revoked on October 31 next year, and were to be replaced by the new bylaw.

The process proved problematic and controversial, and has been the subject of numerous stories in Hibiscus Matters to date.

At today’s Governing body meeting, Council resolved that the provisions currently in place will remain in force until a new bylaw is made, giving staff time to come up with new proposals.

Council today directed staff to advise on potential elements of a future Statement of Proposal such as prohibiting freedom camping not only at the sites recommended by the Hearing Panel, but also at 61 further sites proposed through public submissions.

They will also consider a general rule that regulates freedom camping in other areas – such as outside residential homes.

Mayor Phil Goff says he and Crs Linda Cooper and Penny Hulse will meet with Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis next week to discuss the problems Council has come up against in making its bylaw, caused by the provisions of the Freedom Camping Act, and canvass possible solutions. This includes potential law reform.

“I am hopeful Ministerial discussions will identify better arrangements for addressing the legitimate needs of freedom campers. Nevertheless, this may take some time to implement. In the meantime, we need to develop a bylaw that will attract broad community support. This entails directing officers to start preparations for the development of a new statement of proposal,” Mayor Phil Goff’s report said.

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