Friday, May 25, 2012

Thank you Mr Callaghan!

I received a comment this morning from the gentleman who is heading the Companion Animal Review. I thought it might be a good idea to share it here, in a new post, rather than to leave it buried as comment #41.


Hi everyone my name is Aaron Callaghan. I am the Senior Parks and Open Space Planner at Leichhardt Council who also happens to live locally and also has a two and half year old dog who loves to run free in the off leash parks. Milton and I go for long walks twice a day (starting at 6am before work). Its part of our routine and it’s a great way for us to socialise (with humans and other dogs) and its also our form of recreation, exercise and fun in the outdoors. 

I am also responsible for heading the companion animal review which this blog seems to be very misinformed about. The last time (and the first time) this review was done was when the original “on and off leash areas” were established within the Leichhardt area. This was back in 2005 and it is timiely that such a review is undertaken as community needs have changed as have some of the parks in terms of development and use. Council has no plans to reduce any off leash areas. The review is aimed at assessing current provision, restrictions and signage as well as recommending to Council where possible changes to make on and off leash areas clearer to the public who use such spaces. This would benefit both dog and non dog owners. 

Parks and opens spaces are there to share for all and Council recognises the benefits of companion animal ownership and the role that local parks and opens spaces provide for companion animal recreation, socialisation and interaction with humans. However there must also be balance between different park uses and the provision of spaces for other activities which do not necessarily include dogs ie children’s playgrounds and sporting activities. I would encourage anyone in the Leichhardt or Sydney area who wants clarity on this issue to phone me on 93679270 during normal business hours.



Here is my response:


Dear Aaron Callaghan, 

THANK YOU for writing to let us know the situation! I have been at your Council website and saw the 2005 Plan and realised that was probably why it was up for review.

I could not however find any other updates or information on the progress of the current review and would be grateful if you would post a link here for us.

As you might know, being a local and a dogowner yourself, there are many of us who are concerned. Any news that I have personally heard regarding changes seem to imply that off-leash times and zones will be reduced so it's good news that you're saying this will not be so. There's nothing so awful as lack of or mis-information and I'm very happy to be corrected!

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write us.

Regards, The Typist x



[If you haven't already, you can read that post and all comments HERE.]



This pic is from HERE and is dedicated to Fab :)


It would appear I've been premature in panicking and that our off-leash rulings are in the good hands of a local and a dogowner. 


Since Mr Callaghan has already read the post and possibly your comments [gulp], I suppose there's no longer any point in sending it onto him. 


I'm very pleased that we got a response and some clarity on the situation! 



+


This, I suspect, will be the first and last time I venture into becoming A DogBlog With A Cause! I have no idea how some of you do it. Normal programming with stories about Georgia's chuckups and tantrums should return shortly, after my feathers have unruffled and I have ingested some Panadeine Forte.


Till then, thank you again for your support and all your thoughts on off-leash dog parks, wherever in the world you are. I know now, from your comments, that we here in the peninsula are luckier than some and not as lucky as others. 


And that, of course, is how life is.


With love and respect always, The Typist x

+


Some interesting links.

+ If you'd like to know what the City of Sydney stand on off-leash dog areas are, CLICK HERE.


Excerpt from this 2008 article:
"Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says additional off-leash areas are important for people living with pets in the inner city. Ms Moore said it was all about educating the general community about the benefit of pets in people’s lives and educating pet owners about responsible pet ownership. “This is about equity, it’s about not treating dog owners as second-class citizens."


+ If you'd like to know where the off-leash areas in the City of Sydney are, CLICK HERE.


+ If you'd like to know more about Leichhardt Council's current Open Space Strategy for Dogs, CLICK HERE. [This is the 2005 document.]


+

Update 6.15pm!
Mr Callaghan has kindly emailed me the link to the latest news on The Companion Animal Access Review 2012. HERE IT IS! It includes a pdf that explains the Review process. 


If you're bubbling with concerns and ideas, and haven't yet submitted your thoughts on the matter -


The closing date in the wards of Leichhardt and Birchgrove is  now Wednesday 30 May 2012 at 4pm.


Loving this dialogue :Have a great weekend everyone! x




Update Sunday!
I received an interesting and, may I say, rare comment from a local resident and dogowner on Friday night. I should have done something about it yesterday but have been crook. [Yes, please feel sorry for me.]


I think it's worthwhile highlighting as I know many people [oddly] do not read comments as avidly as I do. For those of you who do not live in this area or country, [and for Mr C if he should pop by again], it gives you an idea of the confusion on the ground.


Hi Georgia,

Thanks for posting all of this info over the past weeks. I think it was still really wonderful & valuable that you encouraged Balmain/Birchgrove residents to write in to council because as it states in the pdf link that Mr Callaghan sent you "Council will consult key stakeholders - such as pet owners and park users", however there was never a guideline as to how as pet owners and park uses could be heard as part of the consultation process.

Local area precinct meetings tend to be a first port of call for council to "consult" with local residents and unfortunately Birchgrove precinct's own chairman is against any changes for either more off leash space (like at Ballast Point Park where there is none at all) and would love to have existing off leash space reduced. The small group of vocal residents that attend these meetings (around 8 people), share this view are so vocal and it seems, they are always contacting council with this view giving the impression that they 'speak' for the majority of residents on the peninsula.

The issue that a lot of us local 'balmain dog lovers' had was that some LMC staff such as the grounds keeper at Birchgrove Park/oval and other park staff members had started to tell those of us with dogs off leash (in off leash park zones) that "we had better enjoy it now as there were going to be changes to the amount of space and timings our dogs could play off leash", I was told this very thing not even a week ago.

Anyway, well done with bringing all this info forward and public, you & your fantastic blog defiantly add value to our community.

Calley x
(www.balmaindogblog.com)



I have a feeling it won't be over till the fat dog howls.
"Typist, is it safe to come out yet?"

21 comments:

H and Flo said...

That's really good news. Now, if you could send Mr C up here to organise us another dog park, that would be grand.

:)

ps. Your 'DON'T PANIC' badge is in the post.

Kim said...

What a wonderful relief to get that information - and such a great twist of events! Don't ever back away from going after what's important to you; if it turns out the details are different than what you were aware of, then everyone learns in the process and the "opposing side" gets to clear the air. A win-win. You did awesome!

georgia little pea said...

Dear Fab - I have updated the post with a button just for you!

Thanks Kim! x

verobirdie said...

I'm so glad for this good news!

What Remains Now said...

How nice that Georgia and friends have a powerful advocate.

Jean said...

Having many times been assured by some official or other than such-and-such will or will not be changed, and then finding the opposite to be true, I am always a little sceptical and will reserve my happy dance until after the review is complete and filed. Meanwhile, it is great that you have Mr. Callaghan's comments in writing, in public. Perhaps Australian officials are more trustworthy than Canadian ones! :)

And regardless of the facts, congratulations on having the guts to stand up and take action based on what you believed to be true at the time. Even if things turned out to be different from what you initially thought, stimulating discussion on the advantages of dog parks is still a worthwhile endeavour.

Declan said...

Well that sounds like good news. We are very jealous of you guys and our friends in the States. Whilst there are very few restrictions on where dogs can be off lead over here, there are no specific dog parks which means there are almost no really safe areas for us to run free. Deccy x

georgia little pea said...

Deccy - I suspect the dog parks you're thinking of are the enclosed ones. We have visited one in Canberra but there are none here in our neighbourhood. The off-leash areas are shared zones in normal parks that are for everyone. It can be a contentious issue.

Picnickers, cyclists and joggers may not like dogs running into them. Neighbouring houses may find them noisy. Dogowners may have problems with food tossed by picnickers and in the case of fishermen, bait and hooks. And of course, there will always be some people who don't pick up poop.

I suppose the challenge is finding a happy middle ground where we can all learn to enjoy each other's company in our green spaces. Tranquilo!

Personally, I would love to see some of the smaller parks get some fencing and gates as quite a few dogs have been run over darting across a road.

Anonymous said...

Hi Georgia,

Thanks for posting all of this info over the past weeks. I think it was still really wonderful & valuable that you encouraged Balmain/Birchgrove residents to write in to council because as it states in the pdf link that Mr Callaghan sent you "Council will consult key stakeholders - such as pet owners and park users", however there was never a guideline as to how as pet owners and park uses could be heard as part of the consultation process.

Local area precinct meetings tend to be a first port of call for council to "consult" with local residents and unfortunately Birchgrove precinct's own chairman is against any changes for either more off leash space (like at Ballast Point Park where there is none at all) and would love to have existing off leash space reduced. The small group of vocal residents that attend these meetings (around 8 people), share this view are so vocal and it seems, they are always contacting council with this view giving the impression that they 'speak' for the majority of residents on the peninsula.

The issue that a lot of us local 'balmain dog lovers' had was that some LMC staff such as the grounds keeper at Birchgrove Park/oval and other park staff members had started to tell those of us with dogs off leash (in off leash park zones) that "we had better enjoy it now as there were going to be changes to the amount of space and timings our dogs could play off leash", I was told this very thing not even a week ago.

Anyway, well done with bringing all this info forward and public, you & your fantastic blog defiantly add value to our community.

Calley x
(www.balmaindogblog.com)

3 doxies said...

Oh dis is awesome news...so far, if nuttin' just so happens to change. In my town, there be no place fur us off leash. We has to drive almost 45 minutes to gets to a doggie park.

Mr. C made a comment bouts NON-dog owners...I feel sorry fur those peoples...hehehehe.

And whether you think you did a good job or not lettin' da public knows bouts dis situation...you did an excellent goin' public with dis situation so don't let da misinformation get to you because you went by what you knew at da time. Thanks fur standin' your ground fur sumptin' important.

Puddles and mum

georgia little pea said...

Dear Calley, how are you?

Thank you for your input on the process and for telling us about your unfortunate experience with the groundskeeper. Very sad and upsetting as well. It seems he was as misinformed as I was, and you can now tell him so the next time you see him! Perhaps Mr C will return to read and reply to your comment.

I know you have a large pack so it would be great if you could pass on the updated news and post.

The Defiant Typist? HAHA! Happy walking x

P.S. 8 people? Come on! We can definitely do better than that! :)

houndstooth said...

I think you should absolutely look at your stance on becoming a blog with a cause. You made some great points, and if nothing else, you did get them to update their information and clarify what it is that they're trying to do. They also need to know that people are following what they do, are aware and actually care about using public spaces. You did a great job!

Daisy's Mom said...

LOL! I look forward to the regular Georgia posts coming up, but had to laugh at the "Gulp". I can understand how you feel. Been there before, many times.

Look at it this way, you not only were heard, but you also received a response. And, now Mr. Callaghan knows how people feel too. So as they revise the signage or designations a bit, they will likely keep it in mind.

It's okay to venture put and stand up for what you believe. Be proud of that.

Patrice and Higgins said...

I am super proud of you!! I thinks you did a great job of getting word out to everyone! Don't feel bad and keep up the good work! Also, Yay, for having such important people ready your blog!!!

~Higgins

Pamela said...

I'm with everyone who says you should write about whatever is important to you at the time. Decisions about off-leash access are important and I think it's wonderful that your blog drew some attention to the issue.

I hope the final review results in parks that are enjoyable and safe for everyone. And, of course, in lots more pictures of Miss Georgia playing with her friends.

georgia little pea said...

THANKS EVERYONE! You guys are such a supportive bunch, you make me want to bawl.

I will never truly be a Blogger With A Cause (other than to document my dogs's bowel habits). But I shall keep a closer eye on the Review process now, and my ear on the ground. If you've read the comments, some local dogowners have been told other than good news by council workers in the field. No wonder there's panic among Us Who Are Not In The Know.

Of course they're not the man who heads the Review, so I will remain hopeful.

I will definitely be making a post on The Final Outcome. Until then, peace :) x (I'm feeling hippie today.)

Christine M said...

Go, Aaron! (and Milton, natch)

chandra said...

Look at you, Typist! You've secured official comment ... that's more than some networks/television/newspapers are doing these days! I believe that with these types of issues it's always important to stay on guard ... changes in policy have a way of sneaking up on us.

Hope you've been doing lots of frolicking off leash this weekend, GLP!
-c at ddy.

Pup Fan said...

I think it's awesome that you brought so much attention to this!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Well done. You should be very proud of yourself for having the guts to write about something important to you and your friends and it must be great to know your post has been read and responded to by Mr Callaghan:) Here's hoping he knows more than the groundsman!

Rose from Oz is Back! said...

Let's just keep a very sharp eye on the processes progress, nothing here is over til the fat dog indeed howls.
xx