Irwin council votes to reopen free RV camp site on town oval

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Liam BeattyMidwest Times
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A file image of a campervan.
Camera IconA file image of a campervan.

One year after the Irwin Shire council decided to close an overnight RV camp site in the centre of Dongara to help local caravan parks weather the COVID-19 pandemic, councillors have voted unanimously to reopen it.

The closure was initially met with disquiet from local businesses who raised concerns the town would suffer without the trade brought in by travellers using the free 24-hour rest stop.

But a year on, an independent survey commissioned by the Shire found a majority of businesses owners reported a “neutral impact” on turnover and opinions on reopening the site were mixed.

At the Shire’s ordinary council meeting on June 22, councillors voted unanimously to reopen the site for 12 months and evaluate whether the location led to positive economic impacts.

A $10 a night per vehicle fee was introduced after Shire development manager Brendan Jeans told councillors the site was previously costing tens of thousands of dollars to maintain. “The upkeep of the site in 2020 was estimated at the low end to be $30,000 a year,” he said.

“Ratepayers have been picking up the bill for this.”

Cr Barry Wyse proposed an amendment to the item after contacting residents living near the site.

“Overwhelmingly residents in the area were happy to see the site reopen,” he said. “But the closer I got to the town oval that flipped with 83 per cent of people saying no.” He said the main concerns raised by residents was the noise created by guests and some said they felt unsafe around the location. “Most said if it was moved they’d be happy,” he said.

Councillors voted unanimously to support his motion to relocate the camp site to the north side of the town oval and adjacent to a caravan park.

Under the amendment, a review into the continued use of the town oval as an overnight RV camp site and suitability of the location will be completed by August 2022.

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