Pro­posed pooch park pro­vokes de­bate

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - JA­NINE RANKIN

The pro­posal to set up a se­cure dog park in Palmer­ston North has shifted lo­ca­tion and turned into a free range dog so­cial­i­sa­tion area.

The draft Waitoe­toe Park re­serve de­vel­op­ment plan has been ap­proved to go out for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, in­clud­ing a dog ex­er­cise area that city councillor Lorna John­son said ’’com­pletely missed the point’’.

Be­fore she was elected to the coun­cil, John­son was part of a group that pre­sented a pe­ti­tion ask­ing for an en­closed dog park to be set up in the city.

The re­quest was for a fenced area where peo­ple who were less ag­ile than their dogs could con­fi­dently let their pets off their leads and know they would stay safe.

Early plans for the Lin­klater Re­serve in Kelvin Grove in­cluded a dog park, but the need to lo­cate it well off the road, away from houses and at the end of a costly new ac­cess road, priced the idea off the mar­ket.

Af­ter a series of other sites were con­sid­ered, the coun­cil shifted part of the bud­get for a dog park to the op­po­site end of the city at Waitoe­toe Park.

The de­vel­op­ment plan for the re­serve, ap­proved by the coun­cil’s sport and re­cre­ation com­mit­tee, in­cludes a dog ac­tiv­ity area that is only par­tially fenced.

Land­scape plan­ner Shan­non

‘‘This is a slightly en­hanced dog off lead area and is not what was re­quested’’ Cr Lorna John­son

Bray told coun­cil­lors he did not like fences, and the peo­ple who val­ued Waitoe­toe Park wanted it to be kept as nat­u­ral and un­struc­tured as pos­si­ble.

The chal­lenge with de­vel­op­ing the park would be to re­sist overde­vel­op­ment, while man­ag­ing po­ten­tial con­flict be­tween walk­ers, cy­clists, dogs and chil­dren.

He said dog walk­ers who used the park did not want to see an en­clo­sure with six-foot-high fences where peo­ple went in with their dogs and locked the gate.

‘‘Fences are not the an­swer. The dan­ger is you cre­ate an area with a false sense of se­cu­rity that you can let your dog go to do what­ever it likes.’’

The plan would in­clude some dis­crete fenc­ing to keep dogs away from part of the Manawatu Riverside shared path­way to avoid con­flict with cy­clists.

The fences that were put in would be hid­den among hedges and other plant­ing.

The wet­land area would not be fenced off, but would rather serve as a nat­u­ral bar­rier, he said.

John­son said the orig­i­nal sub­mis­sion was com­pletely dif­fer­ent to what was in the Waitoe­toe plan.

She said the city al­ready had a num­ber of dog ex­er­cise areas, in­clud­ing Waitoe­toe Park, and the re­quest had been specif­i­cally about a se­cure, fenced park.

It would cater for dog own­ers with lim­ited mo­bil­ity, and those who strug­gled to keep their dogs un­der to­tal con­trol to pre­vent them run­ning away.

‘‘This is a slightly en­hanced dog off lead area and is not what was re­quested.’’

Cr Rachel Bowen said her con­cern was about con­flict be­tween dogs run­ning loose, and chil­dren be­ing en­cour­aged to ex­plore the nat­u­ral set­ting.

‘‘You can achieve a lot with plant­ing, but not nec­es­sar­ily the sense of se­cu­rity that there is a fence be­tween your four year old and some­body’s mas­sive dober­man.’’

The draft de­vel­op­ment plan is ex­pected to go out for for­mal con­sul­ta­tion for a month.


Dog Day Sun­day, the doggy get to­gether that hatched a plan for a city dog park.

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