The Council is undertaking a comprehensive review of the policies and bylaw regarding various animals, including dogs, cats, bees, poultry, and stock. The project has already completed early engagement, and now with Councillor approval will go to formal consultation in mid-September.
Key proposed changes from the review include:
• Introducing a bylaw requirement for dog owners to carry waste disposal bags in public places.
• Allowing off-leash access to Oriental Bay Beach during off-peak hours (before 10am and after 7pm) in the warmer months (1 November – 30 April).
• Expanding off-leash provision across nine suburbs in Wellington.
• Introducing a bylaw requirement for the mandatory desexing of cats over six months old.
• Introducing a cap of four beehives in residential areas without the need for written permission from the Council.
• Introducing a maximum of 8 hens and/or female ducks or 12 female quail to be kept in residential areas without prior written permission from the Council.
Wellington has a 1:16 dog-to-people ratio, with around 16,000 dogs in the register. Since the last review of the Dog Policy in 2016, the Capital has experienced a notable 39 percent increase in dog registrations.
In a recent survey, a significant concern shared by both dog owners and non-dog owners is dog waste in our streets and reserves. As well as being unpleasant to step in, dog faeces pose health risks to humans and wildlife, contribute to water contamination, and interfere with the enjoyment of public spaces.
The key message these proposed changes will make is to encourage good behaviours in pets and their owners, says Committee Chair, Councillor Teri O’Neill.
“Wellington is a compact city and we’re growing, and with over half of our residents owning pets we need to manage the needs of the owners, non-pet owners, and the impacts on our native wildlife and natural environment.
“Our Animal Control team’s approach is education first, but sometimes a bylaw can act as a deterrent, and also give them the means to enforce their message where the lessons aren’t being learnt.”
Following considerable consultation, oral hearings on the revised draft Te Awe Māpara | Community Facilities Plan were also heard by the Committee. In total there were 235 written submissions and 25 oral submissions received. All feedback will now be analysed and taken into consideration for the revised Plan to be presented to the Committee to consider adoption in October.
The Plan includes a list of actions with community collaboration, considering any facility issues, and potential geographical or functional gaps, says Councillor O’Neill.
“Our staff have created this plan because we want our facilities to be thriving and well used by everyone. The city is growing and changing, and we need to make sure our facilities are in the right places, are fit-for-purpose and accessible. We also need to ensure they are working together well to offer a cohesive and diverse range of activities to suit all our different communities.”
Freedom camping rules also came under scrutiny from the Committee, with the Council proposing to extend the four-day restriction currently applied to the two designated freedom camping areas for a motor vehicle to all the freedom camping areas across the whole city. The restriction will also be extended to freedom camping using a tent or other temporary structure. Restrictions on camping provisions will not be used against those experiencing homelessness.
This is to ensure consistency of new central government legislation and provide Council officers with a clear authority to take enforcement action against infringement offences under the bylaw in the future.
The Council is also proposing several changes to the existing Commemorative Policy to enable more effective and consistent management of commemorative requests like trees, furniture, plaques, and memorials in public places. We are also consulting on removing ash scattering under this policy and proposing to move regulation to the Cemeteries Management Plan 2021.
The Commemorative policy and Freedom Camping consultations will both be open from Thursday 14 September to Friday 13 October.
Public consultation on the Animal Bylaw and Dog Policy is expected to take place from Monday 18 September to Wednesday 18 October.
Details of all public consultations will be available at letstalk.wellington.govt.nz, and posted on the Wellington City Council website and social media channels, and at local libraries and community centres.