University could be fenced off

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2014

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Canterbury University could become the first New Zealand campus to put up fences and lock the public out if a city council alcohol bylaw is passed.

The council is considering a bylaw that could open the way for students to get $250 instant fines for drinking on university land because of a change to what is considered a "public place".

The university is opposed to the rule that extends the definition of "public places" to private land with open access, such as its campus.

At present the university is within the Ilam/Riccarton permanent alcohol ban zone.

University vice-chancellor Rod Carr said the only way to protect students from police alcohol ban fines would be to "put up fences and gates", and "assert the private nature" of its land.

The Christchurch City Council says it must adhere to the Local Government Act.

Universities New Zealand said it would consider how its eight other campuses would be affected.

Canterbury University was one of 16 submitters on the council's Alcohol Restrictions in Public Places Amendment Bylaw.

Carr said the change in definition of a public place meant it "may well be pushed over time to stop access".

New Zealand universities were "all pretty open because that's how we want them to be", but the bylaw would make private campus events like barbecues impossible.

University land like University Drive, Ilam Fields and Heritage Gardens were policed by its own security staff with its own alcohol bans in parts, but it meant exemptions could be given for events.

There were separate discussions between university and council about the possibility of a public cycleway through the campus, but the bylaw could have "knock-on consequences" for that.

Large overseas universities were locked as an "extreme form" of security, but not in New Zealand.

He understood the council had discretion about how it enforced the definition of a public place.

Council acting strategic policy manager Claire Bryant said privately owned areas including carparks, gardens or roads accessed by the public had to be included in alcohol ban areas.

"Temporary and permanent bans must use the definition of a public place as outlined by the Government legislation."

Universities New Zealand executive director Chris Whelan said it appeared "the [Act] scope has been poorly defined and it's going to have an unintended consequence unless it's reviewed".

"We weren't aware of it, and we will be certainly following up to find out more."

The council will consider submissions to the alcohol bylaw on July 24.

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- The Press

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