The ACT Government has expanded its off-leash and swimming areas for Canberra’s four-legged friends in an effort to provide an off-leash area no more than 800 metres from every dog and its owner’s home.
First flagging the expanded dog areas when the Canberra Dog Model was released earlier this year, Minister for City Services Chris Steel said community feedback showed the community wanted more off-leash areas for their dogs, especially swimming areas.
Off-leash areas have now been added in Gordon, Kambah, Farrer, Narrabundah, Charnwood and Bonner, bringing the off-leash areas to a total of 130-hectares. The Government has also given the city’s seven popular off-lead dog parks $200,000 makeovers, including re-seeding grass and making them more accessible.
“Off-leash areas provide responsible pet owners more opportunities to walk and exercise their dogs,” Mr Steel said. “These changes are an important part of the Canberra Dog Model, which outlines a vision for Canberra to be a leader in effective dog management through improvements in community safety, responsible dog ownership and animal welfare.
“By having clearer rules on where dogs can and can’t be off-leash we know the community will be empowered to make better decisions to manage their dogs safely.”
Owners can also now take their canines for a dip in Lake Tuggeranong, Orana Bay in Yarralumla, Kurrajong Point beach in Weston Park, Gungahlin’s Yerrabi Pond, Lake Ginninderra and at Diddams Close, Belconnen.
Mr Steel said the popular swimming spots were identified as dog attack hot-spots and also in consultation with the community.
“We heard feedback from Canberrans about where they would like to recreate with their animals and we also have the data of where dog attacks were occurring across the ACT, and based on all of that feedback we have determined on and off-lead areas as well as dog swimming areas,” Mr Steel said.
“There were only really two dog swimming areas in the ACT, at Point Hut Crossing and Uriarra Crossing. So the extra swimming areas will provide an opportunity for dogs to swim in our major lakes in a designated place.”
Mr Steel said the announcement also served as a reminder for all dog owners to have effective control of their dog, with on-the-spot fines of $250 and a maximum court-ordered penalty of up to $2,400. He said signs will be erected and the six-member compliance team will start to hand out more fines in the coming months.
“The compliance team have taken an educational approach in the first few months and they will now be stepping up their enforcement with a particular focus on handing out warnings and fines where people are doing the wrong thing,” he said.
“We have seen some really positive engagement from the start. The rules are clear and they will be enforced.”
The changes will be updated on ACTmapi, a publicly available map online, to ensure Canberrans are aware of and can easily access maps of the on and off-leash areas.