Level 3 Council Meeting Tackles Rates and Freedom Camping
The Hurunui District Council had its first Council Meeting in Level 3 on the 30th of April 2020. Decision items on the agenda included a rates postponement policy for hard hit residents and amendments to the district’s Freedom Camping bylaw.
The meeting commenced with a video of a special poem to acknowledge Anzac Day, written and read by 6-year-old Ziggy Gould from Broomfield School. The reading was part of Miss Gould’s online learning curriculum, as the majority of the district’s children continue their schooling from home.
A key decision council made during the meeting was to adopt a policy for the deferment of rates in relation to COVID-19. The policy is designed to assist residents who have been most adversely affected by COVID-19. The deferment [ability to postpone rates payments] applies to the 4th rates instalment of 2019/20 and the first rates instalment of 2020/21. Ratepayers have until the 31st of July 2020 to make an application.
Mayor Marie Black urged residents who are concerned about paying their rates to reach out to council. “We want ratepayers to contact council to discuss their situation so that we can structure a payment plan that works for each individual position” she said.
During the meeting, the council also addressed three amendments to the districts Freedom Camping Bylaw. The amendments in question had previously been postponed until after the effects of another camping season and additional responsible camping efforts could be considered.
The Council acknowledged that Responsible Camping Funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had greatly assisted additional camping monitoring, rubbish bins and signage in the district as well as the employment of a camping ambassador for the Gore Bay/Cheviot area. It considered the impact of these additional measures on freedom camping behavior.
The first and second amendments to consider were for Hanmer Springs. The council resolved to restrict the two freedom camping spaces on Cheltenham Street to self-contained vehicles only and retain the status quo at Chisholm Park.
The council also requested that officers report to Council on the feasibility of reviewing the location of freedom camping spaces in Hanmer Springs by September 2020.
The third amendment that passed was to prohibit freedom camping in Gore Bay.
Mayor Black said that the vote was split right down the middle for both the Cheltenham Street and Gore Bay decisions and explained she had to use her casting vote to reach final decisions.
“The split votes were reflective of the complex range of issues that need to be considered,” she said. “Finding the right balance between protecting local amenity and providing for the legal rights of freedom campers has been very difficult.”