Better deal for dog owners
The Marlborough District Council's new dog policy was a "subtle but significant" shift in favour of dog owners, environment committee chairman Peter Jerram said yesterday.
The council's full meeting yesterday confirmed the environment committee's endorsement of the new policy and bylaw. It comes into force from midnight on Monday, October 1.
It retains a ban on dogs in the Blenheim central business district, but allows dogs in the Picton central business district. It also sets out a list of where dogs can go, on or off leash, and sets other requirements of dog control.
Disability assist dogs - such as hearing or guide dogs - are exempt from the council policy.
The policy says the council recognises the majority of dog owners are responsible and that most interaction between dogs and the public is positive.
"It is also recognised that dogs can play a positive role in society and provide enjoyment and health benefits for individuals and families.
"This policy seeks to achieve a balance between the control of dogs and recognition of the community benefits of responsible dog ownership."
Mr Jerram said there was a "subtle but significant change in the way dog ownership is seen in this province".
It was "pretty jolly harsh in this town for a while", he said, citing a previous mayor as having toughened up against dogs.
"Dog owners are an important part of this community.
"We are gently giving them a bit more latitude than we have in the past.
"Personally I am very pleased about that."
The policy was saying to people "we have heard them", he said. "People wanted relief and we've provided that."
Mayor Alistair Sowman said that judging by the number of submissions received on the proposed policy - a record number for a council issue, staff said at the time - there certainly was interest in it from the community.
"People had the opportunity to express their thoughts. I haven't heard a negative comment about it."
More than 300 submissions were received, from more than 1000 people. Councillors spent two days hearing people's views, and they made site visits to areas affected by the policy, including the central business districts of Blenheim and Picton, the Wither Hills farm park, and dog exercise areas.
Jamie Arbuckle said the most important thing from the committee was taking the effort to go on site to a lot of the areas discussed by dog owners.
He said the dog policy needed to be "a flexible document" that could have changes made to it as time went on.
John Leggett said the council's new bylaw put the responsibility on people to do the right thing.
"It's a job well done, but the lesson from it could be applied in other council areas."
- The Marlborough Express