Canines caught in ‘nanny state'

TAKING THE LEAD: Nicole Daly shares some outdoor recreation with her favourite canine Tales.
TAKING THE LEAD: Nicole Daly shares some outdoor recreation with her favourite canine Tales. Renee Pilcher

GYMPIE dog owners and their pets will have to stick to their backyards or stay on their leads after the push to create an off-leash dog park on Gympie's north side fell victim to the million-dollar demands of a "bureaucracy gone mad" this week.

A disgusted councillor Ian Petersen threw his hands in the air on Tuesday and said he was "almost sorry" he had ever suggested turning the unused half of Fairway Park, near the residential estates of Fairway Dr and Corella Ct, into a dog off-leash facility.

Converting half the park into an off-leash area for dogs and owners required 30m of fencing, Cr Petersen originally believed.

But he soon found out it would require much, much more, including "a new book" of Gympie Regional Council bylaws, inspectors to monitor and enforce those bylaws, a large car park, dog litter bag dispensers and, most insurmountable, "millions" of dollars in insurance.

"I did not realise the degree to which the 'nanny state' has overtaken us," the councillor said.

"To me this just typifies the sort of thing that is bringing this country to its knees."

Meeting all the legal and other requirements would also take so long the only Gympie residents still alive to see the project come to fruition would be those just being born now, he said.

"What I had in mind was a very low-key, low-cost concept."

The shrinking sizes of backyards in new residential estates combined with a growing population and high numbers of dog owners meant there was an increasing need for off-leash areas.

"In this day and age it is no longer acceptable to toss the dog a few Pal Meatybites and leave it tied up or locked up on the back porch," Cr Petersen said.

"Pet owners are aware of their responsibility to provide not only food and shelter for their pets but also exercise."

Sport, recreation and parks committee chairwoman Cr Jan Watt said she sympathised with Cr Petersen and suggested the concept be kept alive so the council could plan and budget for such a facility in the future.

However she said the size of Fairway Park made it an inappropriate choice.

In a subsequent move, Cr Petersen said the two separate ends of Fairway Park still needed to be separated by a fence to ensure children from the less-used kick-and-play area did not come "careening into kids" near play equipment.

"It could be absolute carnage," he said.

His suggestion was not met with amusement from mayor Ron Dyne, who said he understood Cr Petersen's disappointment but he was now "being ridiculous".

Gympie Times

Topics:  dogs fines off-leash

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