Camping at Bracknell River Reserve will be allowed again after a motion was passed at the Meander Valley Council’s July meeting.
Councillor Ian Mackenzie moved the motion which asked to reopen camping at the reserve within 30 days and charge a fee of $3 per night as an interim solution.
The motion also asked that the council act as the management committee with permits paid for and coordinated by the Bracknell Boys and Girls Club.
Free camping was banned in the region in November last year because it is illegal for councils to allow free camping on council-owned land.
According to the 2012 Review of Council Recreational Vehicle Overnight Camping Services councils must “price its services to reflect costs”.
Since the ban, a number of community members have raised their concerns with the council.
At the meeting Cr Mackenzie said allowing camping at Bracknell was important for the town because tourists eat at the local pub and purchase goods from the town’s store.
He said it could take “years” to get a response from the Economic Regulator who have been trying to find a solution for the situation, and that introducing a small fee would work in the interim.
Bracknell resident Barbara Roberts spoke against the motion at the meeting.
Ms Roberts, whose property neighbours the reserve, said she was becoming “increasingly concerned about lobbying and misinformation” about camping at the river. She said she had noticed a significant increase in people using the area for camping and the current levels were “unsustainable”.
While Ms Roberts was against camping at the reserve, she was not against free camping in other areas of the town.
She said the council should put its ratepayers first, rather than tourists.
However, Cr Mackenzie said he “respectfully disagreed” with Ms Roberts and claimed she had not contacted him to raise her concerns.
“I’ve had a lot of support from the Bracknell community on this,” he said.
Campers do not create issues in the area, instead they act as security and stop negative behaviour, Cr Mackenzie said.
Councillor Rodney Synfield said he was happy to support the motion.
“It’s an opportunity to reopen something that was very popular,” he said.
Councillor Deb White said she understood residents feeling overwhelmed and wanted to see the issue resolved, but did not support the motion.
Councillors Michael Kelly, Tanya King, John Temple, Mackenzie and Synfield voted for the motion. Councillors Andrew Connor, Craig Perkins, Bob Richardson and White were against.