The impact of closing dog parks in Melbourne - Make your council vote count.With the economy the seemingly most important thing in Australia, and house prices expanding like some unrestrained bubble .. many dog parks are under threat in Melbourne. And the main reason seems to be local council profiting from developer money.
If you don't live in Melbourne this might seem completely foreign to you, but we have noticed many parks (not just dog parks) being converted into mid rise high density living completely inappropriate to the rest of the neighbourhoods they are springing up in.
Every other house in the suburbs of places like Hobson's Bay Council areas, are under Incredibly tight heritage laws. These laws restrict the type of extensions (limiting it to a hunch back on the back of weatherboards) to very restrictive heritage paint colours.
Yet only a few km away, many weatherboards are being bulldozed to put up two story cement wall (very quick construction) developments with virtually no front or back yards. They destroy the neighbourhood and the aminity of the houses next door. But its just progress hey?
New housing developments destroying dog parksSome people (mostly those profiting from it) say this is "progress" or that higher density living is necessary to feed the cities growth, but curiously very few of these people live next to the developments being made. And should growth at all cost destroy the quality of life of the current inhabitants of an area?
Double story houses will add much higher rates to councils, but do nothing for quality of life or future proofing a suburb. As our population ages, do you think that older people will want to have staircases in their houses? If this is the only stock left in a suburb, how will that affect the accessibility of appropriate housing for different age groups?
Killing green wedges for higher rates for councilsOne of the bigger concerns is that existing dog parks are being beautified in an attempt to attract greater numbers of non dog people. Invariably this leads to complaints about the presence of dogs, and dogs are banned from the few 'off lead' dog parks that exist.
Considering that very little money is spent by council on most dog parks, except for occasional mowing - this is a very real concern. Maintenance doesn't seem to occur unless there is an agenda of pushing dog out.
The main reason that dog parks in the west of Melbourne remain dog parks is because many of them are built on garbage dumps, and the cost of extracting that rubbish is currently too high for developers.
However as housing prices skyrocket, even seemingly inappropriate land becomes a developer's dream.
The possible connection between park beautification, then dogs being banned off lead, is that its the pre cursor before the land is sold off forever to developers to make a quick buck, and of course the green open space is lost to the community forever. Council representatives come and go, but off lead dog parks are lost forever.
What happens when dog parks are lost?
Its not just dog owners who are affected. But many people who own dogs walk them reluctantly. And they do so to stop the dogs barking and making a 'nuisance' of themselves to their owners.
When you make it even harder to take a dog to an off lead dog park - ie remove the park and make owners go another 5-10 minutes down the road, the people who are not hard core dog walkers usually just reduce walks or stop all together.
If you don't own a dog, you may think that doesn't concern you, but a bored dog barks much more and becomes much less social increasing the risk of dog bite when they do get out. This means that the community as a whole suffers from excess noise from barking dogs, and a higher risk of dog bite.
I am a dog walker because I love dogs and I know that off lead dog walks are vital for a dogs mental and physical health. But I also know that many people don't know this and are happy for dog parks to be lost.
The only way to keep dog parks is to elect council representative who understand the value of dogs. Please find out which ones are dog aware and make your vote count.