Newcastle is a city that is passionate about its parks, its beaches and the outdoors, and Novocastrians are also passionate about our pooches.
We are one of the most dog-loving LGAs in NSW, with more than half of all homes having a four-legged member of the family, compared to just 38 per cent of households in NSW as a whole.
To help meet community demand for places our four-legged friends can run free, Newcastle City Council has set aside $220,000 in the 2018-19 financial year to fund the first of four planned new off-leash dog parks, one in each ward of the local government area.
This proposal is part of the draft Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy, which is on public exhibition from today for 90 days to give everyone an opportunity to have their say.
Developed after extensive community consultation, the document will guide the provision, improvement and management of dog off-leash areas over the next 10 years.
There was keen interest in the engagement process, with more than 1,000 surveys submitted and over 300 interviews and written submissions.
“Novocastrians are very passionate about their dogs, with many people considering dogs to be part of their family, and they wish to have places for them to run free,” said Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.
One of the main areas of focus in the strategy is the establishment of new dog off-leash areas to serve suburbs that are particularly lacking in off-leash facilities, which include Lambton, New Lambton, Adamstown, Mayfield and Warabrook.
The strategy also seeks to establish good support infrastructure including trees, landscaping, pathway connections, bins, drinking water, seats and shelter in the existing dog off-leash areas. The community indicated a need for basic infrastructure and shade at existing off-leash areas during the engagement process.
The engagement process also highlighted community concerns regarding dog behaviour and a lack of responsible dog management in public places by some people. The draft strategy proposes options to improve responsible dog ownership through community education and awareness initiatives.
“Dog owners want suitable spaces to exercise their dogs safely, including both on and off leash activity areas. At the same time, other members of the community must be able to use open space and recreation areas without fear of uncontrolled dogs,” said the Lord Mayor.
“This strategy was developed to help us determine the best way to meet the needs of everyone in the community and responsible dog ownership is certainly part of Council’s expectations.”
Formalised dog off-leash areas enable people to take their dogs to a place where they can legally run free, exert energy and socialise with other dogs. Dog off leash areas also provides people with a meeting place and an opportunity to connect with others in the community.
In 2016, Newcastle had 31,904 households with 44,309 registered dogs (based on the NSW Companion Animals Register and sourced by Council). This represents 51.2% of households and 28.5 dogs per 100 people compared to 38% and 19 dogs per 100 people for NSW as a whole.
The draft Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy is on public exhibition until Monday 27 August 2018 and is available for viewing online on Council’s website or in hard copy at:
The City Administration Centre, 282 King Street Newcastle
Newcastle City Library, Laman Street, Newcastle
Wallsend Library, 30 Bunn Street, Wallsend