Council to rewrite dog bylaw
The Far North District Council has announced it will re-write its controversial dog bylaw following a ‘howl of protest’.
Dog lovers rallied against a draft version of the bylaw which proposed reducing the number of permitted dogs per household, and greater restrictions for offleash exercise areas, particularly in the Bay of Islands areas of Russell and Opua.
The harsher version of the bylaw differed from the previous one consulted on by dog owners, prompting the formation of action group Bay of Islands WatchDogs to fight the new bylaw.
The group’s members sent dozens of emails and letters to council staff members and elected representatives and gathered more than 100 people at a community board meeting, in what group spokesperson Leonie Exel describes as a ‘‘howl of protest’’.
Following the August 14 community board meeting where council chief executive Shaun Clarke said rewriting the documents followed by a new round of consultation, was off the cards, mayor John Carter says that is exactly what the council will now do.
Council compliance manager Darren Edwards will now lead the process, and Carter says the coun- cil planned to engage with a working group made up of members of the WatchDogs, the Department of Conservation, and iwi before new documents are released for consultation for registered dog owners.
‘‘After the [initial] consultation was done, changes were made which turned out not to be a reflection of the community’s wishes.
‘‘We learnt an invaluable lesson.’’
Carter says the aim is to ‘‘end up with a bylaw that is representative of the needs and wishes of the community’’.
The new draft bylaw would be released, once the council and the working group were happy, to all known dog owners through the council’s database and via Facebook, Carter says.
Exel says the group are relieved the previous process had been halted, with a new one starting. ’’We are relieved to get the opportunity to be consulted and we are hopeful the next draft will reflect a more positive view on dogs and dog owners and a more collaborative approach between dogs, humans, wildlife and tourists living happily together in Northland.’’
The Bay of Islands WatchDogs are relieved the dog bylaw will be revisited by the council.