TRIAL USE OF WARRIMOO OVAL AS DOG OFF-LEASH AREA

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					Ordinary Meeting of Council - 22 August 2006                                                        12 / 1

Item 12                                                                                           SO2038
                                                                                            1 August 2006


 TRIAL USE OF WARRIMOO OVAL AS DOG OFF-LEASH
                    AREA



                                      EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


PURPOSE OF REPORT:                       To report to Council on the trial use of Warrimoo Oval and
                                         Queen Elizabeth Reserve sportsfield as a dog off-leash area.


BACKGROUND:                              Council resolved at the 13 December 2005 Ordinary Meeting of
                                         Council to conduct a dog off leash area trial at Warrimoo Oval.
                                         Furthermore, upon completion of remediation works and capital
                                         upgrade of Queen Elizabeth Reserve Playing Field in May
                                         2006, the suspended trial of the area as a dog off leash area
                                         recommenced. Both off leash areas trialled were a sportsfield,
                                         and the trials allowed dogs to be exercised off leash in that area
                                         whenever the sportsfield area was not being used for organised
                                         sport and games. Comments regarding both trials could be
                                         made to Council’s Sport & Recreation Planner until 30 June
                                         2006.


COMMENTS:                                The 6 month trial of Warrimoo Oval as a dog off leash area
                                         resulted in 15 comments and one petition received by Council’s
                                         Sport & Recreation Planner. Of these, 14 were in support of the
                                         location becoming a permanent dog off leash area and only 1
                                         was an objection to the trial. During the 3 month recommenced
                                         trial of Queen Elizabeth Reserve Playing Field, no comments
                                         were received.


RECOMMENDATION:                          That following the trials at Warrimoo Oval and Queen
                                         Elizabeth Reserve sportsfield, the ovals be formally established
                                         as a dog off-leash area when not being used for organised sport
                                         or games. It is recommended that Toolang Oval no longer be
                                         recognised as a dog off leash area and for the carry forward
                                         funding on this project be used to embellish the next off leash
                                         are on the priority list. The prioritisation schedule for capital
                                         works upgrade of dog off leash areas will need to be adjusted
                                         with the matrix applied to Warrimoo Oval to determine it's
                                         position in this schedule.



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Ordinary Meeting of Council - 22 August 2006                                                     12 / 2

Item 12                                                                                        SO2038
                                                                                         1 August 2006


PURPOSE OF REPORT

To report to Council on the trial use of Warrimoo Oval and Queen Elizabeth Reserve sportsfield as
a dog off-leash area.


BACKGROUND

In 2002, Council carried out a review of the provision of dog off leash areas around Ku-ring-gai.
This study looked at the 13 resolved sites at that time as well as an additional 14 sites and
considered a number of issues including the spread of open space which was designated off leash
and non off leash to ensure as even a spread of provision of both types of area as possible.

In the case of the St Ives area, Warrimoo Avenue Oval was considered, however the area in
Yarralumla Avenue was already adopted, and a far greater coverage of provision for residents can
be achieved by having an area in the south and the north, than only in the centre. Additionally,
when considering the use of a sportsfield for shared use, Warrimoo Oval was identified as having a
much greater amount of ‘formal booked’ activities than Toolang Sportsfield. This is largely due to
Warrimoo Avenue Oval having floodlights and is therefore used for night training in summer and
winter, as well as weekend sport.

The study undertaken in 2002 assessed each site in relation to a number of issues including; the size
of the site, the population who had ‘local’ access to the site, and the existing and required
infrastructure with a view to determining the suitability of each site. As a result, eight additional
sites were trialled for a period of six months. At the conclusion of the trial, 5 sites were resolved to
be off leash areas, and one trial was suspended pending the completion of the remediation of Queen
Elizabeth Reserve. There are now 18 adopted off leash areas in Ku-ring-gai, 12 are permanent areas
and the remaining 6 are sportsfields which are off leash when not being used for organised sports
and games, one of which is only off leash after 1pm each day.

The Local Government Act requires each Council area provide one designated off leash area.

The same report referred to above, identified that the designated areas needed to be upgraded to
ensure they were safe and suitable for use, the basic facility provision was determined to be;
fencing, water, bins, seats and shade. At this time it was recognised that it is not possible to fully
appreciate the suitability of each site unless they meet these basic minimum requirements. This has
been very evident by the increase in use and the positive feedback received about the sites where
upgrades have been completed.

At the same time, Council adopted a prioritised program which has resulted in at least one off leash
area being upgraded each year. The 2005/06 capital works program had identified Toolang Road
Sportsfield as the highest priority and upgrade works to be completed included the area being fully
fenced, and the other facilities outlined above installed during the financial year. This was resolved
by Council in July 2005, following consultation with the Parks, Sport & Recreation Reference
Group.


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Ordinary Meeting of Council - 22 August 2006                                                   12 / 3

Item 12                                                                                      SO2038
                                                                                       1 August 2006

Councillor Hall and local residents met with the Director of Open Space & Planning and key
Council staff on-site at Warrimoo Oval on Friday 11 November 2005 to discuss the residents’
desire to transfer the dog off-leash area from Toolang Sportsfield to Warrimoo Oval.

At the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 13 December 2005, Council resolved that:-
“Council discontinue any construction of off-leash facilities at Toolang Road Oval, St Ives, in line
with the adopted Capital works program for 2005/06. Instead, Warrimoo Oval at St Ives is trialled
as the first priority off-leash area in north St Ives with a view to its replacing the unsuitable
Toolang Road Oval, currently approved under the present Capital Works program.”

Queen Elizabeth Reserve was on trial as a dog off-leash location when it was closed in 2003 after
traces of asbestos were found. The sportsfield re-opened on 5 May 2006 following extensive
remediation works and capital upgrades. Signs were erected on-site advising the local community
that the area had recommenced as a trial dog off-leash area and public comment was invited until 30
June 2006.

COMMENTS

Warrimoo Oval
Signs were erected at Warrimoo Oval advising the local community that the sportsfield was a trial
dog off-leash area when not used by a formal hirer. Seasonal sporting clubs that hire Warrimoo
Oval and permanent hirers of the Warrimoo tennis courts and scout hall were written to and advised
of the trial exercise and invited to provide their comments and suggestions by 30 June 2006. A
follow up letter was sent in May 2006 advising that the trial period was concluding in
approximately a month’s time.

Throughout the trial period, 15 comments and one petition were received. The petition presented to
Council on 28 March 2006 contains 78 signatures and stated:-
 “We, the undersigned, thank you once again for your support in the ‘trialling’ of Warrimoo Oval
as a ‘dog off leash’ park. The trial has been received with great enthusiasm by local dog owners as
can be seen by the increased use of the Oval. All are mindful of removing pet waste and of keeping
dogs from interfering with any non-dog owners using the oval. We are extremely confident that
sporting groups, general public and dog owners and their pets can all benefit from the use of the
oval without conflict.”

Council wrote to the head petitioner acknowledging receipt of the petition and advising the
procedure that would occur at the conclusion of the trial period.

A summary of the 15 comments received is provided as Attachment 1 of this report.
14 of the 15 comments supported the trial and recommended Warrimoo Oval continue to be offered
as a dog off- leash area. Comments received stated that dogs had to be kept on a lead when the
sportsfield was in formal use, and that it was encouraging to see the oval being used for multi-
purpose activities. Additionally, many people referred to the important social and health benefits to
be gained by both dogs and owners from off-leash areas.

The single objection regarding the trial cited dog owners ignoring the off-leash rule during formal
sporting activity and raised concerns about the health impacts resulting from the dual use of the
sportsfield.
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Ordinary Meeting of Council - 22 August 2006                                                   12 / 4

Item 12                                                                                      SO2038
                                                                                       1 August 2006



Queen Elizabeth Playing Reserve
Upon re-opening of the sportsfield on 5 May 2006, the suspended trial was recommenced until 30
June 2006. Signs were erected on-site advising the local community that the trial had recommenced
and invited comment regarding the trial. No comments were received by Council during the latest
trial period.

CONSULTATION

Consultation was undertaken over the last 6 months during the Warrimoo trial period with residents
and users of Warrimoo Oval sportsfield, tennis courts and scout hall. In addition, the trial period
was advertised in the Ku-ring-gai Council News section of the North Shore Times on 7 April 2006
and on Council’s website under ‘trial dog off-leash’ areas throughout the 6 month trial period.

All residents who commented and provided a mailing or email address, have received a written
acknowledgment of their comments and have been advised the date of the Ordinary Meeting of
Council when this report relating to the trial locations is to be presented to Council.

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

If the recommendation that Queen Elizabeth Reserve Sportsfield and Warrimoo Oval be established
as dog off-leash areas and Toolang Sportsfield revert to an area where dogs can only be exercised
on a leash, then the main financial consideration is the replacement of installation of adequate
signage at both locations, which will be in the region of $800.00. Furthermore, there is a financial
implication to the organisation of the increased resources required to monitor and regulate the
recommendations being made, including an increase in the necessary Regulatory Services staff
resources to patrol the area to ensure that the changes in status of the areas are recognised by the
community.

CONSULTATION WITH OTHER COUNCIL DEPARTMENTS

Open Space staff worked in conjunction with staff from Regulation Compliance. In particular,
communication has occurred with the companion animals’ officer and other regulatory officers to
collate comments made by members of the public to staff from this section, in addition to including
any comments from the regulatory staff who attend these sites.

SUMMARY

The trials have been undertaken for a period of six months at Warrimoo Oval and three months at
Queen Elizabeth Reserve Sportsfield with very little or no overall response. The success and
positive feedback Council has received in relation to Warrimoo Oval, serves to demonstrate the
importance that the community places on having suitable facilities to exercise their dogs off-leash.

Whilst it is considered that a larger catchment and improved access facility can be fully addressed at
Toolang Avenue Sportsfield, this could only be fully demonstrated following completion of capital
improvements to the location as was resolved by Council for completion in 2005/06. However,
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Ordinary Meeting of Council - 22 August 2006                                                     12 / 5

Item 12                                                                                      SO2038
                                                                                       1 August 2006

significant opposition to the delayed upgrade of Toolang Dog Off leash area has not been identified
during the trial period of Warrimoo Oval.

RECOMMENDATION

          A.   That the following sites be resolved as recognised off-leash areas whenever the
               sportsfield area is not being used for organised sport and games:

               (i)    Warrimoo Avenue Oval
               (ii)   Queen Elizabeth Reserve Sportsfield

          B.   That Toolang Oval no longer be recognised as a designated dog off leash area under
               the Companion Animals Act.

          C.   That the funding allocated for upgrades to the Toolang sportsfield in 2005/06 be
               considered in the carry forward for 2005/06 capital works and to be used to embellish
               the next off-leash area on the priority list.

          D.   That Warrimoo Oval as a dog off leash area be prioritised in accordance with
               Council’s matrix for Capital Works expenditure on embellishment of dog off leash
               areas.




Carol Harper                                             Steven Head
Sport & Recreation Planner                               Director of Open Space & Planning



Attachments:          Summary of comments received during trial period of Warrimoo Avenue
                      Oval - 649451




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