Kirrip Park dogs to remain on-leash despite community pleas

Kirrip Park dogs to remain on-leash despite community pleas

By Kaylah-Joelle Baker

The City of Port Phillip has recommended Kirrip Park’s current leash restrictions for dogs remain in place despite a recent petition and a majority of survey respondents calling on the council to introduce off-leash times.

In November last year, a petition with 417 signatures from local residents was sent to the council.

Taking into consideration that the park is used by the adjacent South Melbourne Primary School, the petition requested for dogs to be able to roam free after 5pm on weekdays and anytime over the weekend and public holidays.

In response to the petition, the council reviewed the area and consulted the community during August and September through an online survey.

While some concerns were raised surrounding “the safety of children”, 79.5 per cent of the 117 respondents were in support of the proposal.

“It’s in close proximity to many apartment blocks where people own dogs and would like to exercise them appropriately without having to drive to the nearest dog park,” one respondent said.

But despite the majority of the respondents being in favour of abandoning the leash restrictions between the designated hours, no changes were made following the council meeting on November 3.

The decision instead focused on the concerns surrounding not only the safety of children but the cost of additional maintenance, uncollected dog waste and the fact that off-lead dog parks at Station St and Eastern Reserve were accessible within a one-kilometre radius.

The council also cited the City of Melbourne’s new dog park at Moray St in Southbank, which is still under construction.

The report to council also noted that its draft Public Space Strategy contained actions in response to community feedback to review dog off-lead areas and investigate fencing of some off-lead sections of the light rail trail.

But Montague Community Alliance convener Trisha Avery believes the council needs to find a way of meeting the expectations of both children and dogs, saying, “everybody is mindful” of Kirrip Park being situated near the primary school.

And she strongly disagrees with other concerns raised.

“Dog owners tend to be the people caring about the environment they’re in and I’ve found the owners were always the ones picking up the litter as well,” she said.

“And there are no parks nearby. In the Montague Precinct, Kirrip Park is the only potential off-leash park.”

While the council argues the other parks were “considered reasonable distances for most dog owners to walk or travel”, Ms Avery is more concerned about the “dangerous” crossings of Montague St and City Rd to access the spaces.

And with an increase in dog ownership during the past 18 months, she said that locals were concerned the council was not being “sympathetic” to the Montague community.

Opened in October 2018, the entire Kirrip Park project, from purchase to design and construction, cost around $20 million. While it was created for the growing Montague community, the further developments of potential playground facilities further minimise the chance of the park ever becoming off-leash.

“There are many more dogs in the area now and it is the state government’s [Fishermans Bend] Development Board’s responsibility to bring people in, build buildings and create a community and currently dogs are part of this community,” Ms Avery said •

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