Here’s an example of democracy in action in the city of Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand.
The Council consulted on revisions to its dog bylaws and dog owners responded about the unnecessary restrictions.
On 3 May, the Council announced “Nelson City Council has responded to submissions on its Dog Control Policy and Bylaw Review by developing a new proposal based on feedback from submitters.”
Deputy Mayor Ali Boswijk said, “Ultimately, the dog bylaw we are proposing will take a default position where dogs can be off-leash everywhere, except areas which are identified as prohibited or on-lead.”
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and perhaps we should have spent more time talking with the wider community before we drafted the original Statement of Proposal. This is a good learning for us and something we will take on board in future.”
The new summary of Council’s preferred direction for the Dog Control Policy and Bylaw:
- Dogs to be prohibited from the part of Marsden Valley Reserve to the east of the Barnicoat Walkway
- Retain Girlies Hole and Black Hole as swimming holes for dogs during summer (December to March) and allow dogs in all holes during the remainder of the year
- Add Sand Island to the list of dog prohibited areas
- Dogs to be prohibited from the Maitai Cricket Ground during the cricket season but they can exercise there from April to September.
- The shared pathways (Railway Reserve and Atawhai Shared Pathway) will become off-leash areas
- The Maitai Walkway to remain an off-leash area for dogs
- Seventeen neighbourhood reserves will remain on-lead areas for dogs as requested by submitters
- The Good Dog Owner Policy will be amended with input from the Dog Owner’s Group and other interested parties.
In addition, Council is looking at establishing a dedicated dog park at Saxton Field where dogs can exercise off-lead.
Well done to the Nelson City Council for recognising that its constituents wanted something else for dogs and their owners and well done to all who submitted on the dog control bylaw.
If you don’t participate in your local community to represent your interests and the interests of dog owners in general, be prepared for restrictions that will inhibit your ability to socialise your dog and enjoy their company in public places.
Perhaps a lesson for dog owners elsewhere in NZ and overseas?