A survey of local residents completed in September 2018, indicated strong support for a dog park in Port Gardens.
Given the level of support, the trial dog park will proceed.
Design for Trial Dog Park
A design for the dog park is underway and expected to be completed within a few weeks.
This will include the precise location of the park but in the interim, the general area is shown below.
Council will publish a copy of the design prior to construction.
Once the design is signed off, Council will construct the facility, purchase and install the agility equipment as per the design, do landscaping and install signs and other features.
This will ensure the facility is judged on a completed facility, rather than one which is unfinished and incomplete.
Council will apprise adjoining residents of when construction and landscaping will commence and when it has been completed, and the commencement of the 10-week trial.
Before the 10-week trial starts, and over the 10 weeks, Council will be doing noise monitoring, traffic counts and will do a second survey of residents and park users.
After the trial has concluded, Councillors will review the results of the noise monitoring, traffic counts and community survey to then make a decision as to whether the park will become permanent.
If the park does not remain, the fencing and agility equipment will be removed, and the community will have a nicely landscaped area which is an improvement on the current park.
What’s with the Soil?
On 6 March 2019, several truckloads of sand/earth were placed in Hutchings Park.
The material came from works being done in Murphy Street to repair landslips.
Material will be required in the creation of the trial dog park and rather than take the material to another location and then transport it back to the site when required, it is being stockpiled in Hutchings Park until such time as construction commences.
Those who do not support having a Dog Park in Hutchings Park, represent an estimated 12% of residents in the immediate neighbourhood. Their main concerns were as follows:
- Additional noise from barking and yapping dogs in the park; dog owners yelling at their dogs and neighbourhood dogs barking at dogs in the park.
- Cleanliness concerned about the smell from dog faeces and urine and how often Council would clean out the bins and maintain the park facilities.
- Irresponsible dog owners bringing aggressive dogs into the park; leaving dogs in the park unattended; poorly trained dogs interfering with dogs undergoing training, ensuring that dog owners respect the rules and control by certain dog owners claiming rights or bringing loads of uncontrolled dogs.
- Location – several object to having a dog park in a built-up area where it is too close to houses, next to a children’s playground, and some believe it will devalue homes in the area.
- Increased traffic – eight respondents mentioned increased traffic and insufficient parking
- Safety concerns – the proximity of the park to the children’s playground concerned several respondents, plus road safety issues with increased traffic. One respondent said more dogs would increase the likelihood of crocodiles in the area.
- Flood prone – respondents said both sites become wet and boggy during wet season which would make the park unusable for part of the year, others said the waste from the dog park would run out onto the reef. One resident said the current park is part of flood drainage basin; and believed any development would affect the flow of water and increase risk of flooding to the surrounding area.
- Waste of money – a few thought there were more important things to spend money on.
In response to these concerns, relevant data will be gathered throughout the trial to determine whether none, some or all of these concerns are justified.
Data Collection during the Trial
The following data collection steps in the trial are proposed:
Noise monitoring will be done in the weeks prior to the dog park trial so as to provide a baseline, as well as once the trial dog park is operating to provide a comparison
Traffic counters: Council has three traffic counters. A counter will be placed at either end of Oriole Street to gather traffic data. As with the noise monitor, the counters will be in place a few weeks prior to the trial so as to provide a comparison.
Letter box drop: A note will be delivered to residents in Port Gardens to advise residents of the start and completion dates of the trial. Email alert can be arranged upon request.
Survey forms and a collection box will be left at the trial dog park entrance/s for users to complete.
During the last week of the trial, an online survey will be set up and a second letter box drop done with an email alert available upon request.
Feedback from the survey findings and data from noise monitoring and traffic counters will be analysed and assessed, to help to ascertain if the concerns voiced by some residents were realised, and whether the dog park lived up to the expectations of users.
Once the feedback is assessed this will be presented to Council for a decision on whether or not the Trial Dog Park is to remain operating. Should the results not support the continuation of the dog park, the fencing and agility equipment will be removed from the site, and the landscaping, drinking fountains and seating areas will remain to leave an enhanced community park.
Council’s decision will be announced, and the report on the data collected during the trial will be published on Council’s website.
Register for Email Alert, Enquiries or Further Information
If you would like to register to receive email alerts about the project, have any questions, or would like further information, please contact Gaye Scott on 0418 793 009 or email email@example.com
More information on Dog Parks May be found at www.paws4play.com.au
It is important that people using the dog park understand they do not abdicate their responsibilities as a dog owner because they are in a Dog Park.
Local laws relating to dogs in public spaces and off-leash areas will still apply.
The following highlight some of the issues that can stem from Dog Parks.
Many of these can be minimised by appropriate management and through dog owner education and many are rare occurrences.
- Dog owners not picking up after their dogs
- Too many dogs brought in by the one person
- Inappropriate dogs (e.g. entire dogs, dangerous breeds) being brought to the dog park
- People leaving their dog unattended in the dog park
- Inappropriate use of the dog park by dog trainers.
What are the upsides to a dog park?
Dog Parks complement other opportunities for dog owners and a few of the benefits are:
- Dogs and their owners can be separate from other people who don’t want to interact with dogs
- They keep dogs out of sensitive environments but still allow them access to parkland
- They provide a meeting place or activity hub for people and communities
- They provide elderly and dog owners with disabilities with an accessible and safe place to exercise dogs
- They encourage dog to dog socialisation
- They can provide an environment where advice is exchanged on dog management and where responsible dog ownership is encouraged
- They provide a focal point for community education and training programs, and
- They can help avoid potential conflict between dogs and other activities in parks.
- Dog parks can be hazardous for people
Dog bites are the most serious potential problem and there is always a great deal of interest in this issue. However, dog bites are more likely to occur on a dog’s territory, either in the owner’s home or its immediate vicinity, than they are in public open space. Often the triggers for these territorial or protective behaviours are not present when in the neutral territory of a public park.
- Dog parks can be hazardous for dogs
Studies indicate inter-dog aggression is extremely rare in well design dog parks. Fences are not square caged areas but have meandering borders, so dogs can’t be cornered. It is also important that even though their dog is off leash, owners still need to have control of their dog.
- Dogs can be a threat to park wildlife
The creation of a dog park minimises the potential for any adverse impact on wildlife and allows the dog park to be located closer to sensitive environments than open off-leash areas
- Dogs parks can impact on other park users
The dog park is fully enclosed allows for a closer co-location of the dog park with other recreation activities and minimises potential conflict.
- Dog faeces are unsightly and a health hazard
Dogs defecate whether or not they are on a leash or in a dog park. As is currently required throughout the shire, dog owners will be required to pick up after their dog in the park and there would be appropriate facilities for disposal.
Enquiries about this project: