Dogs may soon be able to run free off leads in Selwyn parks if the district council gives a new bylaw the green light.
Councillors will decide tomorrow on a number of proposed changes to the district's dog control bylaw.
The most significant change is to allow dogs to be exercised off a leash in public reserves when the grounds are not being used for sporting or other public events.
Dog owners can now be fined $300 for letting their dog off a lead in a public reserve.
A council working party, which is recommending the bylaw be approved, hopes the changes will result in more use of the district's reserves and more options for dog owners to exercise their animals.
District council senior animal control officer Steve Clarke attended the working party's submissions hearing.
He said: "My view is that we were lacking exercise areas for dogs.
"Well-exercised dogs have less problems. Less barking, better socialisation, less aggression."
If the district council approves the bylaw it will come into action on December 1, said Mr Clarke.
The recommendation comes after public consultation and the consideration of 188 submissions.
Mr Clarke said 38 submissions supported the proposed changes, four were neutral, and the rest objected to some of the proposed changes.
A number of submitters did not support opening up reserves to dogs, but that number was hard to separate out, said Mr Clarke.
However, the working party believes the bylaw strikes a reasonable balance in the use of public areas by the sporting community and other users, including the more than 6000 dog owners in the district.
In August the council ran four public forums around the district to let people know what the proposed changes involved and answer any questions.
Mr Clarke said no one turned up to the Leeston meeting, two people came to the one in Lincoln, seven people showed up in Darfield, and six in Rolleston.
Of the 144 submissions made on the proposal, 44 indicated they wanted to be heard, said Mr Clarke.
But when the hearing day came in September, only six people turned up.
"It was a bit of a hot potato but it turned out to be a bit of a mashed potato," said Mr Clarke.
He said there was a lot of talk when the proposed bylaw was first announced, but not that many people officially had their say.
Under the proposed bylaw, dogs will be prohibited from reserves when they are being used for public events.
This includes all marked playing fields and a 5m perimeter around them.
To address the potential issue of dog fouling, a number of other actions have been recommended in conjunction with the proposed changes.
These include additional signage, waste bins, education, monitoring, and a low-tolerance stance to enforcing the bylaw.
Proposed changes include:
- Not allowing dogs within 5m of any children's playground equipment (formerly 10m).
- Requiring the owner or any person in charge of a dog in any public place to carry a suitable container for the removal of any fouling by the dog.
- Reducing the distance from commercial premises that dogs can be tethered from 10m to 5m.
- Extending the areas where dogs are prohibited to include all hardcourt recreation areas in public places such as netball or tennis courts, all golf courses on district council reserves and all skate parks.
- Allowing dogs to be released from the pound in the case of genuine hardship if arrangements for the payment of pound fees have been made.
- Clearview and Prebbleton primary schools have been added to the list of schools where dogs are not allowed.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you think the district council should approve a bylaw allowing dogs to be exercised off a leash in public reserves? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep your letters to about 200 words and include your name, township and a contact number. No noms de plume.