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Fifty per cent more space for dogs off leash

MEDIA RELEASE
19 November 2003

Fifty per cent more space for dogs off leash

Auckland City Council’s Works Committee today received the results of an extensive review of Auckland city’s off-leash dog exercise areas. The purpose of the review was to increase the distribution and quality of dog exercise areas across the city’s wards, as it was realised that existing areas no longer met the needs of the dog owning community.

The council’s manager compliance monitoring, Barry Smedts, has increased the number of off-leash dog exercise areas in the city by 50 per cent, from 81 to 122. Unless otherwise notified, dogs on a leash can still be exercised in all public areas of the city.

“Auckland City’s parks and reserves are a scarce resource and have to be managed in a way that balances all community needs – including providing appropriate areas for dog owners to walk their dogs off their leashes,” says Councillor Bill Christian, chairperson of the Works Committee.

The dog exercise area review process began on 19 March 2003, when the Works Committee established a working party of community representatives and council officers to determine criteria for assessing dog exercise areas. The set of assessment criteria was approved on 23 April.

To attain city-wide consistency, community boards were asked to review all their dog exercise areas according to these criteria and make recommendations on which areas could be used for off-leash exercise.

Community boards then started a period of public consultation and feedback on their recommendations. Over 1500 submissions, including several large petitions that were counted as individual submissions, were received from members of the public.

“Dog owners are certainly entitled to ‘green space’ – and by allowing community boards to review their local needs in regard to leash-free exercise areas, we gave local residents the opportunity to determine where access to such green spaces are located throughout the city,” says Mr Christian.

Following this process, the Manager Compliance Monitoring, with input from the community boards, designated the city’s off-leash dog exercise areas.

New dog off-leash exercise areas will come into effect on or near to 19 February 2004 to allow time to make and install correct signs, and the required number of disposal bins for dog droppings.

In the interim, further discussions will be held by a small working party comprising relevant community board chairpersons, Auckland City officers and members of the DOG (Dog Owners Group) lobby. Topics for discussion will include the small number of potential exercise areas not currently approved, issues around time restrictions on exercise areas, and the access by dogs to sports fields. The outcomes of the working party’s discussions will be referred back to the community boards.

Today’s report, listing dog exercise areas in each city ward, is available on the Auckland City website (visit www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/members/committeemeetings/works), with the agenda for the November meeting of the Works Committee.

Ends

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