Alcohol ban proposed for Loch Laird campsite during Labor Weekend 2021
JOHN BISSET / Stuff
People camp at Loch Laird below the Benmore Dam in the Waitaki District during Labor Weekend in 2020.
The antics of drunk and stoned teenagers at Loch Laird campground on the shores of Lake Benmore has forced the Waitaki District Council to consider imposing a temporary alcohol ban during work weekends.
The problem, first highlighted by the board’s recreation manager, Erik Van Der Spek, in a report to the assets committee in November 2020, relates to students celebrating the end of the school year with behavior ” alcohol-fueled ”labeled“ junk ”and“ dangerous ”by the board.
“It’s a problem that happens year after year with teenagers damaging the infrastructure there, and we have to do something,” Van Der Spek said.
“The reality is that there are a number of young people out there who are just there to get drunk, to get high, or both,” Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said in a press release.
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“And inevitably, that leads to assault, intimidation, fighting, and a high potential for physical and sexual harm.”
“We also need parents to get involved and not just leave them to fend for themselves. “
Waitaki’s deputy mayor Melanie Tavendale also challenged parents to help them.
“We need parents’ help to keep our young people safe, and we need to make sure parents know what their children are doing, that they take action and take responsibility,” Tavendale said.
“This year, we are asking them to help us during the event itself and to play an active role in keeping our young people safe. Please don’t just let them fend for themselves.
Council Communications Specialist Lisa Scott added, “Residents (nearby) of Otematata are fed up with the mess left after the weekend.
The alcohol ban suggestion is the result of a task force formed several months ago by Chief Constable Nayland Smith, a police officer from the upper Waitaki region. The task force was made up of police representatives, councilors, community council members, council officers and other community representatives to tackle the main hot spot – the upper paddock.
The working group proposed five strategies to tackle the problem:
- Establishment of a temporary alcohol ban for the upper paddock by Loch Laird where the event takes place each year.
- Dedicated parking.
- A police presence.
- Additional camp and security personnel.
- Site improvements, including installation of projectors.
Kircher said the alcohol ban and the proposed safety measures would eventually be accepted at the August council meeting.
“While we are aware of the additional expense these strategies will require, this is a small cost when it comes to protecting our young people from the very real risks they face at the annual gathering.
“Parents allow them to attend, perhaps thinking their children are safe and at a formal event.
“Our only concern is that teens might see the increased police presence and move on to other areas like Waimate.”