Petitions | Brisbane City Council

Pay as you go dog park

Principal Petitioner Lia Cragnolini, Holland Park
Date Closed Sun, 30 Sep 2018 This epetition has ended
No. of signatures 36 signatures

(View signatures)

Residents draw the Brisbane City Council's attention to this revised petition as per council feedback received on the 1st of August 2018. It is acknowledged that council provides an extensive 143 off-leash areas throughout Brisbane. The petitioners understand the council’s reservations and have attempted to modify this request to align with council feedback, legislation, regulations, and strategic plans. This petition highlights the need to have access to a pay as you go dog park. A pay as you go dog facility would enable residents to exercise their dogs in the comfort of knowing that they have complete control over individual or group access to a safe enclosed area. Firstly, this request stems from a growing need of dog owners who may have dogs that are too timid, playful and/or unsocial (don’t interact with a group of dogs and people unknown to them). It would provide peace of mind for dog owners as their dog/s won’t be exposed to other dogs that might prove to be incompatible, unsafe or dangerous. In particular, this need is being driven by the growing movement to adopt rescue dogs; many of whom have had a high level of instability and a lack of appropriate exposure, socialisation and positive experiences, before being rescued, therefore require privacy and security when being energetic and/or exercised. According to a leading dog behaviourist, Vicki Austin, who has stated that off-leash areas needed a "huge overhaul". "Off-leash dog parks are just plain dangerous. Either the dogs are just not educated and are socially incompetent”.1

Additionally, dogs that have been declared by Council as menacing or dangerous, and therefore not permitted to attend one of the extensive number of current off leash dog parks, would have access to a pay as you go dog park so their owners can exercise them in a safe, secure and appropriate manner while complying with the Animals Local Law 2003. This petition is not looking at the potential inappropriate actions of dog owners while attending dog parks but to provide a space for owners to appropriately provide exercise and enrichment for all dogs. This space would provide an opportunity for owners with dogs that cannot comply with the Animals Local Law 2003 that requires dogs to be kept under ‘effective control’, which "means your dog will return to you upon command.”2 Effective control also means ‘the dog is not a nuisance to other dogs and their owners’.3 This can be difficult even for the most well-behaved dog. According to Neil McMahon he violated this law when “My dog briefly licked the baby”.4

Secondly, another consideration is accessibility and safety for the elderly, those with mobility issues and/or have a disability. A pay as you go dog park would greatly assist these members of society to interact safely with their dogs without the concern of other dogs being over enthusiastic and potentially causing harm and injury to themselves or their dogs. Leading dog behaviourist also agree that dog parks are dangerous for vulnerable people as well as dogs. “Ask any council park ranger, there is a big problem with dog parks in Australia,” he said. “The problem is you never know what kind of dog is going to turn up and it is leading to dogs, elderly people and children being attacked.”5 This need is also accumulating due to the impact of increasing housing density where more people are living in apartments or have smaller residential blocks.

Given the councils new strategic plan (Brisbane 2022 New World City Action Plan) housing density will only increase in the future. Therefore, the importance of public spaces (especially green spaces) will only increase. This dog park would be open to all residents to use. It would be similar to the Council’s other pay for use facilities (such as areas in local parks for events – for example: areas for weddings, concerts, fair days, cultural events). Creating this park does not need to result in a net loss of public open space. It could be an opportunity to collaborate with local artists, engineers, innovators, start-ups to create an amazing public space. This concept is not looking for ongoing budget from the Brisbane City Council as the hire rates should be costed to cover ongoing maintenance and insurance. It is considered that the Council is best placed to operate this park due to their unique position. This includes already providing similar services therefore have economics of scale and owning appropriate property that meets legislative requirements for dog parks, as well as their protection under legislation regarding public liability. Specifically, the Brisbane City Council is protected until legislation for insurance under the Civil Liability Act 2003.6

‘Council cases are notoriously difficult to win in this day and age due to the fact that Council have been given extensive protection under legislation and also a growing number of decisions which have supported Councils against claims.’7 The importance of this point is that the cost of insurance would prohibit individuals or businesses to invest in the provision of pay as you go dog parks. Although not outlined as a concerned by Council in their feedback, if needed, the group of interested dog owners would be willing to discuss the initial costs of establishing the pay as you go dog park to limit the impacts on the local public space infrastructure budget. 

1 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-11/off-leash-parks-dangerous-says-dog-trainer/7316108

2 https://www.smh.com.au/national/whose-offleash-dog-beach-is-it-anyway-answer-not-your-dogs-20171009-gywu1g.html

3 Animals Local Law 2003 Part 3, Division 2, Section 27 4 https://www.smh.com.au/national/whose-offleash-dog-beach-is-it-anyway-answer-not-your-dogs-20171009-gywu1g.html

5 https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/home/pets/dogs-should-pass-tests-to-use-offleash-parks-says-expert/news-story/fd2bfcc6fbb78b4eee916cf0ea3e2c60

6 http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/qld/consol_act/cla2003161/ 7 https://www.gerardmaloufpartners.com.au/Publication-1550-Public-Liability-Claim-Against-a-Local-Council.aspx

Consequently, your petitioners request that the Brisbane City Council provides the land, establishment and maintenance of a pay as you go dog park that is:

1a. preferably, not in the vicinity of a current dog park 1b. preferably, fenced if it is necessary to locate it in a current dog park – to prevent the dogs in either park seeing each other, to facilitate a harmonious environment for all park users

2. of a size that would enable larger dogs to have a good run (this is not a request for an area larger than a standard dog park)

3. appointed with similar features to other dog parks (e.g. shade, benches for owners to sit on, human and dog water fountain, rubbish bins, waste bags etc. and if possible agility equipment)

4a. preferably, equipped with a solid fence that would prevent dogs on either side of the fence from seeing through and becoming over excited and stimulated, particularly when other dogs are waiting their turn

5a. preferably, have a 6-foot fence (height should be higher than the standard dog park fence, to assist dog owners with dogs that are good jumpers) 5b. alternative to this request, including a standard dog park fence, could also be acceptable.

6. preferably, based on the same technology as the CityCycles so that a Go Card could pay for the entry

7. preferably, linked to an app so that dog owners can book usage of the park in advance or, if available, a dog owner can make a booking on the spot if the park is available

8. preferably, the app would ensure that the bookings are traceable to the dog owner

9. governed by rules to be programmed into the app, if and when possible.