Proposeddog ban reversed
Waikowhai Park dog walkers will no longer take access to the reserve for granted.
Until last Friday the Manukau Harbour foreshore park in Mt Roskill nearly saw a ban on dogs on beaches due to a supposed threat they posed to birdlife in the reserve’s intertidal zone.
Residents, including nondog owners, expressed their dismay and brought it forward to a Puketapapa Local Board hearing on August 12.
Spearheaded by Cape Horn Drive resident and black labrador owner John Skeates, it saw six dog owners express their view the proposed bylaw was illogical and not supported by any real evidence. It was ultimately a success for the canine walkers with local board member Michael Wood saying an outcome was made that balances the needs of dog owners, nondog owners and the environment. Skeates says this result is a ‘‘success for common sense’’.
The data initially presented about the threat to birdlife was a ‘‘generic’’ statement and not a specific study on the Waikowhai Park coast, he says.
‘‘My call to [the local board] was to have the courage to do something that would work for this foreshore as opposed to something that came from somewhere else and they had the discretion to do that,’’ Skeates says.
‘‘....There was no ground nesting birds in the area, the real issue was the birds feeding on the water’s edge and I think we assured them that largely dogs didn’t go chasing birds...dog owners kept them under control.’’ Wood says the proposal originally came about when the local board commenced a review of dog access rules earlier this year due to old and outdated existing ones. As a result council officers recommended a prohibition on dog access along part of the Waikowhai coast, he says.
‘‘Council officers from the biodiversity team provided general advice that dog access along the coast can have a negative impact on birdlife, particularly if birds are nesting on the foreshore.
‘‘The board has looked at this issue closely and while we believe this is good general advice to consider, there is no evidence of birds nesting along the Waikowhai Coast. Most birds along the coast nest in trees or in other areas.’’ Wood says Auckland Council will now get rid of the confusing ‘‘time and season’’ rules regarding dog access to the park.
John Skeates couldn’t see any evidence for the proposed dog ban at Waikowhai Park.