Bay dog by­law may change

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - ELENA MCPHEE

Dog lovers may soon be able to walk their pets at Caro­line Bay on sum­mer morn­ings.

Some coun­cil­lors have in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to change a coun­cil pol­icy that bans all dogs from the beach from Oc­to­ber 1 to March 31.

Coun­cil­lor Sally Parker urged her col­leagues to al­low dogs on the beach be­fore 9am in sum­mer.

The idea was brought up dur­ing a by­law hear­ing on Tues­day and a num­ber of other coun­cil­lors sub­se­quently sig­nalled their sup­port.

Parker, a dog owner, told coun­cil­lors it would be great to ‘‘watch the sun rise with your pooch’’.

Asked for their views by Mayor Da­mon Odey, sev­eral other coun­cil­lors in­di­cated they sup­ported of in­creas­ing the hours and hav­ing the bay ac­ces­si­ble on sum­mer morn­ings.

‘‘I’m very happy,’’ Parker said on Wed­nes­day.

‘‘It’s been a topic that I’m pas­sion­ate about and I’m so happy that we had a good dis­cus­sion and we came on board with it.’’

The changes needed to be for­mally made at a full coun­cil hear­ing, along with other new pro­posed dog con­trol rules, in­clud­ing of­fi­cially al­low­ing dogs in out­door din­ing ar­eas.

Sub­mis­sions were re­ceived both for and against re­lax­ing rules for dogs on the beach, dubbed ‘‘dra­co­nian’’ by some sub­mit­ters.

On Wed­nes­day, Odey said he ap­pre­ci­ated the num­ber of peo­ple who had made sub­mis­sions about the dog by­law and had cho­sen to talk about what was a con­tro­ver­sial is­sue.

The process was about mak­ing ‘‘lit­tle tweaks’’ and hope­fully Ti­maru would be­come a more dogfriendly town, he said.

Coun­cil­lor Nigel Bowen said he still had wor­ries about how dogs would be con­trolled and it re­mained to be seen whether they would be ‘‘on-leash or off-leash’’.

‘‘I’m not 100 per cent sure where I sit,’’ he said.

There was still a lot of dis­cus­sion to be had and it would be ‘‘pre­ma­ture’’ to say that Parker’s idea would go ahead, he said.

Coun­cil­lor Peter Burt said he sup­ported Parker’s idea.

Any­one walk­ing their dog early in the morn­ing was likely a re­spon­si­ble dog owner and would keep their dog away from the area where pen­guins were nest­ing, he said.

Parker said walk­ing one’s dog at the bay had pos­i­tive ef­fects for both dogs and peo­ple, for in­stance it re­duced so­cial iso­la­tion for lonely dog own­ers.

Coun­cil com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Stephen Do­ran on Wed­nes­day said coun­cil en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pli­ance man­ager Paul Cooper was get­ting fur­ther in­for­ma­tion for coun­cil­lors on sev­eral po­ten­tial changes.

The in­for­ma­tion would be pre­sented to coun­cil­lors at a full meet­ing in De­cem­ber or Fe­bru­ary.

The by­law was not ex­pected to be changed un­til March.

Con­ser­va­tion groups South Can­ter­bury For­est and Bird and Ti­maru Pen­guins sought more pro­tec­tion for the lit­tle blue pen­guin colony on the beach, via a cur­few for the dogs through­out the year, dur­ing the day, and a longer dog ban.

Alan Washington also told the coun­cil he felt some dog own­ers were not abid­ing by ex­ist­ing rules and had a bad at­ti­tude.

There had been an ‘‘ex­plo­sion’’ of dogs this year, and he saw them in places on the bay area where they were not al­lowed to be.

He was frus­trated dog own­ers did not seem to have got the mes­sage, and at­trib­uted it po­ten­tially to a lack of dogs be­ing reg­is­tered.

Af­ter telling one woman there were signs pro­hibit­ing dogs, he was told ‘‘my dog can’t read’’, he said.

‘‘I am just con­cerned that the dog own­ers this win­ter haven’t shown enough re­spect,’’ he said.

Fel­low sub­mit­ter He­len Carter claimed most dog own­ers were re­spon­si­ble and they were very mind­ful of pen­guins.

How­ever Fraser Ross told coun­cil­lors some peo­ple did break the dog rules and ‘‘just didn’t seem to want to know’’ when he con­fronted them.

‘‘Most dog own­ers were re­spon­si­ble, they do abide by the by­law. It’s the ir­re­spon­si­ble ar­eas, the ones that don’t move, that we are hav­ing prob­lems with.’’

Ross, who is South Can­ter­bury For­est and Bird field of­fi­cer but who was speak­ing on his own be­half, wanted bet­ter sig­nage on the bay be­cause some peo­ple claimed not to see the signs.

In his writ­ten sub­mis­sion he also asked for the coun­cil to bet­ter ed­u­cate own­ers about clean­ing up af­ter dogs, and about other na­tive bird species in South Can­ter­bury.

Hos­pi­tal­ity NZ As­so­ci­a­tion South Can­ter­bury chair­woman Kristy Phillips said she had been asked on be­half of her mem­bers to re­quest the coun­cil up­date their by­laws, to al­low busi­nesses to serve cus­tomers with dogs in out­door din­ing ar­eas.

‘‘We ab­so­lutely sup­port peo­ple be­ing able to be out and have their com­pan­ions [with them],’’ she said.

Coun­cil­lors in­di­cated they would agree to the idea, and Bowen, co-owner of Speight’s Ale House, said in prac­tice many hos­pi­tal­ity busi­nesses al­lowed dogs al­ready, and this would sim­ply make it le­gal.

Changes to Ti­maru’s dog park and im­proved ac­cess routes for dog walk­ers onto Ti­maru beaches were also dis­cussed.

All po­ten­tial changes to the dog con­trol by­law will be brought be­fore the coun­cil again in De­cem­ber or Fe­bru­ary.


Coun­cil­lor Sally Parker with her dog Char­lie, at Caro­line Bay.

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