The ACT Government is consulting on changes to dog exercise areas in Canberra. It’s really important that everyone has their say.
The proposals offer some new off leash areas, for example, Yarramundi Reach on Lake Burley Griffin. But overall the changes will reduce off leash access to Canberra’s urban open spaces for dogs and their owners.
Curtin off leash area
It’s always a challenge to balance the various needs of Canberra users of open urban space. The ACT Government has overall provided fair access to dog owners in the past.
In some cases, the Government has given sensible reasons for removing off leash status. These are areas that are incompatible even with well-trained dogs and responsible owners.
For example, the new Lyneham wetlands near Goodwin Street would change from off leash to on leash to help protect birdlife. Likewise, the area in Yarralumla along the cycle path where it runs parallel to Lake Burley Griffin and the Royal Canberra Golf Course fence-line would change from off leash to on leash; this is sensible given the increased cycle traffic and narrow walking area makes off leash dogs a safety hazard for all.
However there are no explanations for many other changes. For example, some open urban spaces in Curtin would move from off leash to on leash status without any apparent change to land use or population.
We think changes should be justified by sound, evidence-based reasons.
We are long-term Canberra residents (approximately 50 years) and dog owners, cyclists, horse-riders, nature lovers and parents. We currently provide free advice on walks around Canberra with dogs at Canberra Dog Walks. We provide advice in our walking route directions about which areas are off leash and on leash. We promote responsible dog ownership including the importance of well-trained, socialised dogs.
In researching and keeping our dog walking directions up-to-date, we have a pretty good knowledge of the off leash areas in many suburbs. We walk in these areas regularly, on different days of the week and at different times of day, so we see how the areas are used by walkers, cyclists, families, sports clubs, horse-riders, etc.
Yarralumla proposed (and sensible) on leash area[/caption]
Dog walking is not only great exercise but it increases people’s opportunity to make contact with other people and make important social connections in their community. Our 82 year-old father’s neighbourhood friends and acquaintances have all come directly from meeting people while walking his dog!
Exercise and networking opportunities increase if off leash areas are not isolated but connected with off leash corridors linking them together. We’re concerned that some of the proposed changes from off leash to on leash will cut off these important ‘corridors’.
Canberra Dog Walks has made a submission to the ACT Government including recommendations about the areas we know best. You can have a look at our specific recommendations here.
We encourage you to have a look at the ACT Government’s proposals and see how they affect you. If you agree or disagree, it’s easy to have your say. Just follow these steps:
Click ‘view dog exercise areas map’ to have a look at the proposed on leash, off leash, off leash ‘conditional’ and dogs prohibited status in your favourite areas.
You will need to enlarge the map by clicking the ‘plus’ symbol on the top left of the map screen many times to see local areas in detail, and then ‘click and drag’ on the map to move it to the area you want to look at.
Off leash areas are green; off leash ‘conditional areas are tan and black checked; on leash areas are white; dogs prohibited areas are striped red and white.
To find out the ‘block’ and ‘section’ number of a particular area to quote in your own submission, you’ll need to increase the size of the map until it shows houseblock details. At this point you can click on the area and a box will pop up showing the block and section number and current land use.
Make a quick submission by clicking on the survey option. The survey provides fields for ‘free text’ to make your own comments. Or if you have more to say, you can post or email your submission instead.