We live in some of Australia's most densely populated neighbourhoods. Because of this density, open space and parkland is very precious and we need to make sure everyone's needs are balanced.
On Monday night, the City's Environment and Heritage Committee voted in favour of a new off-leash area in part of Prince Alfred Park.
Dog owners in Surry Hills, Redfern, Chippendale and other areas should soon be able to enjoy 20,000-square-metre off-leash area on the corner of Cleveland and Chalmers streets. Prince Alfred Park is big enough to accommodate everyone's needs, including dog owners who do not have big backyards.
Space to walk the family pet is an important part of any local community, particularly for people in apartments or terraces. As an owner of two dogs, I know how valuable off leash areas can be for pets and their owners.
Of course, encouraging responsible pet ownership is a high priority. The City regularly offers free dog obedience training courses for residents and their pets.
City Rangers frequently patrol local parks, spending hundreds of hours every month educating and talking to dog owners about being responsible.
To encourage responsible behaviour by dog owners, the City of Sydney provides dog litter bags and has installed signage listing dog owners' responsibilities and identifying on- and off-leash areas in parks.
Dogs will not be permitted off leash on the sporting field when it is in use, or in the native meadow which runs alongside Cleveland Street. City Rangers will monitor compliance with all regulations in Prince Alfred Park to ensure the needs of all parks users are being respected.
Under NSW Companion Animals Legislation, dog owners are required to maintain effective control of their dogs at all times - whether on or off-leash. Dogs are prohibited from playgrounds and barbecue areas and fines can be issued for breaches.
Thanks to members of the local community who came and spoke to Council about their wishes for Prince Alfred Park. By asking questions and getting involved in the discussion, we are able to come up with the best possible balance of uses.