Council ponders dog park question

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 03/06/2014

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Dog owners' dreams of a specified dog park for Timaru are back on the table.

Timaru District councillors will hear submissions on the idea at draft annual plan hearings today.

District council regulatory services manager Chris English said there was "more than enough" money in the dog account for a specific fenced-off area for dogs to play. He estimated it would cost about $60,000 to set up, and about $10,000 to maintain per year.

"It's up to the councillors to decide whether this is a goer, but staff have been checking out some possible sites. There are a few that would be feasible, once we got the approval, it might take only two months to establish, depending on when the contractors were available," English said.

He said most of the sites considered were about "one or two hectares" in size.

Several dog owners have submitted to the council's draft annual plan with concerns there were not enough spaces for them to let their dogs roam.

Councillors will deliberate over the annual plan hearings today.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey said he would go into the submission hearings with an open mind.

"I thought we might have settled a lot of the dog issues when we changed the bylaws to allow more freedom for dogs around the Scenic Reserve ... but it's clear there is an appetite for a separate area specifically for dogs and their owners," Odey said.

"We've been talking to those who support the idea, a lot of them say it isn't so much about the dogs as the social interaction with other owners."

He said the matter had been debated at previous annual plan hearings, but this was the first time councillors had seen some actual costings.

Dogs are allowed off the leash at walkways and tracks in the Scenic Reserve, as long as they are under control and respond to owners' commands.

English said the council's dog account had about $350,000 in its reserves, which had been accumulated through registration, infringement and impound fees.

There were about 8800 registered dogs in the district, and around 6000 dog owners.

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- The Timaru Herald

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