Off-leash dog areas to be trialled

Swan Hill, Lake Boga and Robinvale dog owners will soon have the opportunity to exercise their pooches off-leash in designated areas.

Swan Hill Rural City Council resolved to trial four off-leash dog areas across the municipality at its November meeting on Tuesday.

The four areas located at Tower Hill and Palaroo Park in Swan Hill, Centenary Park in Robinvale, and Lake Boga Sporting Complex in Lake Boga, will be trialled as off-leash areas for two years.

Each area will feature signage, dog waste bags and bins, estimated at a cost somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.

Additional costs could be added if site works are required on the areas.

Council conducted an online survey in February and March to provide public feedback on the issue, which received 224 responses.

The Tower Hill location from Council's plan for off-leash dog areas.

The Tower Hill location from Council's plan for off-leash dog areas.

In her report to council, Development and Planning acting director Helen Morris said the survey had revealed that residents were in support of an off-leash dog area or park.

"When asked if council should provide an off-leash area or park in Swan Hill where dogs can be exercised off lead, 81.7 per cent responded 'yes', 12.1 per cent responded 'no' and 6.3 per cent responded with 'other'," Ms Morris said.

"Of those surveyed, 93 per cent owned a dog and 58.8 per cent said they currently exercise their dog off-leash."

The most popular location for an off leash area suggested by survey responders was Tower Hill at 26.67 per cent, while Riverside Park was second at 24.44 per cent.

A permanent, fenced dog park in the municipality was estimated to cost between $70,000 and $90,000.

"These cost(s) are based on a site that was set up in the Greater Shepparton City Council area," she said.

"Things to be considered are fencing, gates, bins, seating, waste disposal, park maintenance, signage, car parking, and land lease or purchase."

Ms Morris said the recommendation to trial the four off leash areas would allow council to see whether a permanent park would be a possibly in the future.

"Identifying areas as off-leash is a way of determining whether people will utilise the land without having to spend money on a permanent dog park that may not be used," she said.

"(These areas) are general play areas only, therefore water and fencing would not be required.

At council's meeting on Tuesday, councillors unanimously passed the recommendation to trial the four off leash areas for two years.

Council chief executive officer John McLinden confirmed that council would review the future of off-leash dog areas in the Swan Hill municipality once the two year trial was finished.

"We will determine the future of this once council reviews how it's gone over the two years," Mr McLinden said.

To read more about this story, grab a copy of Monday's Guardian (November 27).

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