ARARAT'S canines, pooches and hounds will have a new space to run around in after Ararat Rural City Council passed a motion to establish a new dog park at the Gordon Street Reserve.
Dog owners were already frequenting the Gordon Street Reserve even though it was not an off-leash area, as it was one of the only reserves in the town that is fenced in.
There are several other off-leash areas around Ararat, including Kokoda Park, Centenary Park, and Elizabeth Park.
However, none of them have fencing all the way around, making Gordon Street a safer and more popular option.
Council passed the motion on Tuesday night at its July ordinary meeting, which means that the reserve's new status came into effect immediately.
The council will also install disposable dog waste bag dispensers with bags at the reserve within the next several weeks and water fountains for thirsty pups to drink from within the next couple of months.
Down the track it will also look at installing those facilities at the remaining off-leash areas.
Council chief executive Tim Harrison said the decision came after repeated requests from residents.
"I have proposed that we do incorporate the Gordon Street Reserve - not the oval but the fenced area adjacent to it, because I've had quite a few requests from rate payers and residents to have a dog off-leash area in that area," he said.
"They already use it, they just want it to be official and don't want to be ... lawbreakers in that space.
"Now that we've got quite a few identified off-leash dog areas there is the opportunity to provide some reasonable facilities there for dog owners, such as dog waste bags, and also as we move along it would be practical to provide some drinking facilities for dogs as well."
Ararat resident Rachael Stacpool has five dogs and welcomed the decision to include Gordon Street Reserve after struggling to find somewhere safe to take them.
"I used to run the dogs at Tatyoon Road Oval, but there were so many people that rode their horses there and it became so unsafe for my dogs because they would go check out the horses," she said.
"We couldn't risk their safety because of irresponsible horse owners riding through a dog park. At the moment we run our dogs out in McDonald Park because it is safe to do so.
"The dogs and owners we meet out there are great. (They) never have an issue with my big lot.
"Having somewhere better in town that's safe for the dogs would be great."
Several of the councilors own dogs themselves, and Councilor Fay Hull said it was a subject that was "very dear" to her.
"I've been among the councilors and staff who in particular wanted to have the Gordon Street area declared as an off-leash area," she said.
"One of the big advantages of that is it is near a sports field so people who are going there can go next door with their pets.
"It is also reasonably well fenced, which is not the case with Elizabeth Park - it is fenced but it still has an open gate and even though dogs are meant to be under the control of their owners, something can happen which scares the dog and they can run out onto the street."
Resident Sally Gilleece, who is also a dog owner, doesn't rely too much on the off-leash areas but said the waste bags would be valuable.
"I wouldn't use an off leash area as my backyard is big enough and I rather walk at Lake Alexandra or Green Hill Lake," she said.
"I think it would be great for the council to have dog litter bags in Alexandra Park."
The other off-leash areas in Ararat are:
- Warrawee Park (left off the Western Highway just before the nursery on the way to Stawell);
- Elizabeth Park (Next to Alexandra Hall);
- King Street (between Hakea Street and Elizabeth Street).
- Centenary Park;
- Kokoda Park;
- Ford Street reserve;
- Queen Street Park;
- Green Hill Lake (where indicated by signs).
The council reminded dog owners that it is a requirement to clean up after their pets, and a fine of $200 applies.
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