Submissions invited for Public Places Bylaw review

Published on 01 June 2023

A family group walk around the lake at Bason Botanic Gardens

Whanganui District Council is currently reviewing the Public Places, Parks and Reserves Bylaw 2016, and is calling for community feedback on the proposed changes. Submissions are open until Sunday, 2 July.

Council policy advisor, Hannah Rodgers, says, “Whanganui’s parks and public spaces provide places to meet and socialise for the whole community. They contribute to the wellbeing of people who live here and anyone who visits Whanganui and the bylaw supports the council to take care of these spaces.”

This includes protecting the environment, keeping disruptive behaviour to a minimum, and ensuring parks and reserves are safe and accessible. The bylaw also enables the council to regulate activities in public spaces, such as managing bookings for events.

Last year the council adopted a new Open Spaces and Physical Activity Strategy, and the bylaw has been updated to ensure it supports this strategy and is easier to understand, with improved definitions and overall clarity.

The bylaw enables the council to charge fees for activities in public places. The council currently charges a small fee to book events, and how these fees are structured is a key theme of the bylaw review. Bookings can be for commercial events such as the Extravaganza Fair, community events, or private events, such as weddings.

Hannah Rodgers says the bylaw has functioned sufficiently. However, the fee system was found to be unclear for users in terms of which activities require a booking, what fees will be charged, and what users can expect from a booking. The bylaw review aims to provide clarity and transparency to the system.

“A bookings system is used so people who want to hold events can organise around other events, as well as scheduled maintenance. The fees help cover the administration costs for organising bookings and maintenance costs for damage that sometimes occurs to our parks and public spaces.”

Previously most bookings for outdoor spaces were handled with a flat fee. Three different fee structures are being consulted on, and the review asks about which factors the council should take into account when charging fees – for example, whether the activity is commercial or not and the size of the event.

In giving feedback, people can provide their opinion on which of the fee options should be used and which factors they think should be considered. The council’s preferred option is that bookings for community groups should be free, with a sliding fee for other users depending on the nature of the activity.

“It’s important to note that this discussion around booking fees is for infrequent or one-off uses only,” says Hannah Rodgers. “Regular leasing of council parks or facilities is managed separately.”

Visit the Have Your Say page on the council website to share your thoughts by 5.00pm on Sunday, 2 July.