Councillors agreed to recommend amendments to the Council's draft Dog Policy and Animals Bylaw after putting the document out for consultation. These included:
- allowing access for dogs through the central business district to the waterfront and other parts of the city as long as they are on a leash - currently only dog owners living in the central city may walk through the city with their dog on-leash
- recommending that the Lawn Cemetery of Karori Cemetery become an off-lead exercise area for dogs under control of their owners before 9.00am and after 7.00pm year-round
- five new off-leash dog exercise areas (see below)
- maintaining Waitangi Park as a controlled public place where dogs are allowed on-leash under control of their owners
- extensions / reductions to a number of exercise areas including extending the designated dog exercise area in Trelissick Park in Ngaio Gorge
- maintaining Macalister Park as a designated dog exercise area where dogs are allowed off-leash under control of their owners
- owners with responsible dog owner status will be allowed a 31-day grace period after registrations fall due before they lose their status
- deleting two proposed exercise areas (Owhiro Bay beach and Te Kopahou) due to concerns about the impact on wildlife and habitat.
The recommended new off-leash exercise areas are Chelmsford Reserve in Ngaio, Vice Regal North and Alexandra Road West on the Town Belt in Newtown. It was agreed to include Worser Bay (entire beach) as an off-leash area between 12 midnight and 9.00am. Seatoun beach (Hector Street South to Point Dorset) was changed from an exercise area (specified times) to an exercise area at all times.
The Council's Associate Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Iona Pannett, says the recommended changes balance the regulation and control aspects of the policy with the needs of dogs and their owners. "We have tried to be responsive to submitters while creating a balance with the rights of all residents to be safe in the city. Dogs are important members of many families but we also need to set standards in line with community expectations about dog behaviour and care."
There will be a comprehensive review of the Dog Policy in 2011, taking into account a proposed review of central government legislation. Areas likely to be covered include the level of access to the Town Belt, reserves, and the central city.
It was also agreed there will be a new initiative to provide funding for signage in all exercise areas, the central business district and key prohibited areas for consideration as part of the 2010/11 Draft Annual Plan process. There will be an ongoing emphasis on dog owner education materials to help promote a 'pick up and take home' message to dog owners who use exercise areas without bins.
Consultation on the draft Dog Policy 2009 occurred from 26 June to 7 August - 381 written submissions were received and 33 oral submissions were heard. About 8,500 dogs are registered in Wellington city with about eight percent of the city's households having dogs.
The recommendations will be referred to a full Council meeting for consideration on 11 November.