Council to vote on establishing camping sites

The Shire of Northam Council will be voting to request the Chief Executive Officer to undertake a feasibility study for establishing day sites and overnight camping sites within the Shire of Northam.
The Shire of Northam Council will be voting to request the Chief Executive Officer to undertake a feasibility study for establishing day sites and overnight camping sites within the Shire of Northam.

The Shire of Northam Council will be voting to request the Chief Executive Officer to undertake a feasibility study for establishing day sites and overnight camping sites within the Shire of Northam, after a number of complaints about the lack of RV friendly sites in the area. 

A document presented to Council on Wednesday April 11, said that over a period of time Council had received feedback from visitors that they are disappointed to find that Northam was one of the remaining Shires without an area for free overnight camping in town.

The Council’s discussion surrounding this issue has dated back nearly two years.

At the Strategic Meeting of 25 May 2016, Council considered a report arising from correspondence from Mr Bob Allert regarding a short stay caravan site for Northam.

In 2015/16, an application was lodged for Northam to be listed as an ‘RV Friendly town’.

This application was rejected on the grounds that no free overnight camp site exists within the townsite.

At the Strategic Meeting of August 2017, Council discussed the RV friendly concept, as raised by Cr Tinetti.

Officers have had discussions with the local caravan park proprietors regarding the proposal, and given their lack of support and possible effect on local business, it was decided not to progress the matter. 

Council previously had a day site located adjacent to the Northam Visitors Centre, where travellers had access to power and water.

This site is now the site of the Bilya Koort Boodja Centre.

Council also has a Caravan dump point located in Peel Terrace, adjacent to the Railway Station and opposite McDonalds and has budgeted for upgrades in the current financial year.

Reporting officer Victoria Williams, Manager Tourism & Events said at present, the RV community utilise a number of unsanctioned sites within the Shire for overnight stays and with use word of mouth as a means of finding free overnight camping.

The report outlined that Enright Park, the area on the corner of Minson Avenue ,adjacent to Purslowe Tinetti Funeral Home is currently used by many caravanners and RV owners and the area near Northam Cemetery is popular with those with tents.

It also said the RV friendly community, and day trippers often utilise the parking areas at, and adjacent to, Bernard Park, which can potentially create issues with other car park users. 

Council’s Chief Executive Officer has previously spoken informally with the owner/operators of the local caravan park about this subject.

Other informal feedback about the lack of an overnight camping area has been received via the Northam Visitors Centre. 

The document presented to Council explained the potential risk to local businesses if an RV friendly area was constructed.

“As discussed previously, the establishment of a free overnight area could have a negative impact on the business of the existing caravan park,” the report read.

“It has been established that a day site is needed to replace that lost in the construction of the Bilya Koort Boodja Centre.

“The original day site had the provision for RV’s to park up for the day while exploring the town, and also access to power and water for their vehicle.

“The central location of the previous site was very popular with tourists, and it is thought that a central location within close proximity to the Northam Visitor Centre is ideal.

“Visitor Centre staff receive regular requests from visitors in regard to a site for a single overnight stays within the Northam townsite.  Other requests have included the provision of an electric vehicle charging station.” 

Due to its proximity to the CBD, and other services including toilets, officers said they believe that the preferred location for these sites is Bernard Park.

The Council will vote to support or deny the recommendation on Wednesday April 18.