I went to a talk earlier this week by Stephen Jenkinson, who is visiting New Zealand from the UK. Stephen works as a consultant in the UK, with clients including kennel clubs and other agencies. His area of interest is how public authorities can help reduce conflict over dogs and dog ownership by providing adequate facilities and opportunities for dog owners to do the right thing.
This type of urban planning helps to make dog ownership easy. For example, you don’t have to drive across town to find an off-leash dog park because there will be dog exercise areas that are within walking distance. (This helps to reduce traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and conflict when dog owners take their dog off-lead in a ‘normal’ park or reserve.) Areas in larger recreational parks may be designated for use by dogs and their owners, thus keeping other tracks free for other users who do not want to play or engage with dogs. And there is a growing body of knowledge around design of dog-friendly accommodation such as apartments and condominiums.
Stephen feels that there is opportunity for the rebuild of Christchurch to do better for dogs, their owners, and all non-dog people. Sadly, no one from the Christchurch City Council, CERA, or Gerry Brownlee’s office participated in Mr Jenkinson’s public talk on Monday evening. That signals a lack of senior level buy-in and support for the concepts.
I’ll be doing more research on this topic over the coming weeks and months, but if you’d like to get a flavour for what Mr Jenkinson talked about, you can listen to him speak with Kim Hill on Radio NZ National.