The City of Albany council has voted down a request to adopt an RV Friendly status, with those against the proposal saying free camping facilities would hurt accommodation operators.
Earlier this year, the Association of Caravan Clubs WA asked the City to consider becoming an RV Friendly destination.
To achieve that official recognition, the City would have needed to provide appropriate parking within the town centre as well as short term 24, 48 or 72 hour parking and the provision of portable water and access to a dump point.
A report put together before the meeting said the City already met most of the criteria, except for the short term parking close to the CBD.
The office’s recommendation was to not support the formal RV Friendly status, stating there were already six free or low-fee camping grounds, 30 free sites and 20 low-fee sites around Albany.
During public question time, local residents in favour of the status and caravan park owners who were opposed took to the microphone to appeal to the councillors.
Joanne Hummerston argued Albany should follow Bunbury’s lead and adopt the RV Friendly status.
“Albany needs to think different, they’re no free-loaders, most are quite well-cashed up retirees who have spent a fortune on their RVs,” she said.
“They aren’t on holiday; they are pursuing a lifestyle.
“If Bunbury can do it, why can’t we?”
Councillors back accomodation operators
Caravan park operator Luke Shuttleworth said the RV Friendly status would create direct competition with existing short and long stay accommodation providers.
“Average occupancy of caravan parks in 37 per cent…there is a clear indication there is not a shortage of accommodation,” he said.
“We have provided over 30 jobs for the local community and seven jobs to juniors still in school.
“Let’s not undermine this by allowing free camping in such an amazing destination”
Councillor Alison Goode argued it was time Albany expanded its accommodation options for visitors.
“If this motion is lost it will lose income for York Street traders,” she said.
“Open your minds councillors, show people you want them to come and visit Albany.
“Get with it, everybody is RV friendly, its working for them, why should we be the dinosaurs?
Councillor Greg Stocks was “fundamentally opposed to the idea of being RV friendly”.
“We should be supporting our local businesses who are investing and paying rates,” he said.
Councillor Sandie Smith bought forward an alternative motion to seek a broader analysis and understanding of the impacts of adopting an RV friendly status.
She asked the councillors to consider the cost of a 12-month RV trial, to source other suitable locations and to consider the possibility of a ticketing system.
The alternative motion was voted down 5-7 and councillors voted to support the officers recommendation to reject the proposal for an RV Friendly status, voting 5/7.