New dog park gets tails wagging as teething issues are resolved

Brendan Rees

Southbank residents have embraced a new off-leash dog park on City Rd after the previously derelict site beneath Kings Way’s southern undercroft was transformed into a welcoming area.

The City of Melbourne officially opened the park at the start of March, which includes play equipment, space for dogs to run, and a drinking fountain.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said it was “fantastic to deliver this carefully curated dog park to Southbank and all its four-legged residents.”

“There are obstacle courses for the sporty pooches, and dirt to dig in for those who like to get their paws messy,” Cr Capp said.

“We’re pleased to utilise this space, previously derelict, and turn it into something that enhances the city living experience.”

However, while users of the park had so far enjoyed their experiences, there were some issues raised by the community which prompted the new residents’ group Southbank 3006 to meet with representatives of the City of Melbourne.

The group’s communications chair Mary Kay Rauma said one of the main concerns discussed was the height of the fence which was causing issues for smaller dogs – however the Lord Mayor confirmed the council would move “swiftly to get this resolved” as “we want to ensure this new park is as safe and pooch-friendly as possible.”

When Southbank News visited the park, a piece of timber had been installed to cover the gap under the fence.

Other matters discussed was a request from residents to have double gates provided at the two entry points to prevent dogs from running out as well as new latches after dog-owners reported difficulty with their use.

Another drinking fountain [for both people and refilling dog dishes] and additional rubbish bins were also requested to be installed inside the park’s enclosure.

“There’s also a gap above on Kings Way that causes rain to pour down into the dog park so they’re addressing sealing that,” Ms Rauma said.

She also mentioned people were complaining about “why wasn’t there grass?” However, Ms Rauma said she understood the council’s decision to use gravel as it would be “easier to maintain and doesn’t require sunlight.”

Overall, Ms Rauma said the meeting was “proactive” with residents being “extremely happy” with the new dog park.

“This is a great example of how we intend to do our advocacy work and that is to be a conduit, a connector between special interest groups [including the Small Dogs of Southbank group] and City of Melbourne … and give our community members an opportunity to be their own voice when it comes to expressing concerns directly with the City of Melbourne,” she said.

The dog park, which forms part of the City of Melbourne’s City Road Master Plan, covers 400 sqms and is designed specifically to engage dogs’ olfactory senses.

The council said the gravel coverage would reduce the risk of creating a breeding ground for internal parasites, which can be common in grassed areas

Southbank Residents’ Association president Tony Penna said the dog park had been “received really positively.”

“We’re looking forward to it being used by the community,” he said. “It’s not very big but hey, it’s Southbank, and we have enough problems with open space for dogs. But it is the first off-lead dog park in Southbank so that’s promising.”

Meanwhile, a new dog group has been launched on Facebook and Instagram called Paws of Southbank for residents to connect and organise play dates.

There are 3498 registered dogs overall in the municipality in 2020. In March 2021 there were 430 dogs registered in Southbank, mainly small dog breeds.

Registrations were up in 2020 which was attributed to residents seeking companionship during the pandemic •

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