The off-lead dog park in Port Douglas is not dead yet


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The “Light up Port” project will take precedence over an off-leash dog area, although Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu believes Council can find a dog park location that everyone supports.

In a Mayoral Minute, presented at today’s ordinary Council meeting, Leu moved the following:

  • Endorses Council staff to cease the current works on the Dog Off-Leash Area at Hutchings Park;
  • Resolves to use the funds to contribute towards installing decorative lighting on Macrossan Street; and
  • Requests Council staff to investigate sites for an alternative location for a Dog Off- Leash Area, and bring back a report to Council for consideration in the 2019/20 Capital Works Program.

In the 2018/19 Capital Works Program adopted in June 2018, $145,000 was allocated for the Dog Off-Leash Area at Hutchings Park, Port Douglas, according to background information which formed part of the Mayoral Minute. 

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“Community engagement was undertaken which indicated support, but not from those living closest to the park.

“Since then a significant number of residents closest to the proposed dog park have expressed concern and requested that Council ‘stop the trial run, and abandon the idea of a dog run in this park’,” it said.

A petition signed by 18 Ferndale residents and presented to Council, said they strongly objected to a dog run. These residents either front or back onto the proposed dog run. The petition advised that four residents were absent but had stated verbally they did not want a dog park.

The principal petitioners were Sue and Bill Entwistle, Pam Willis Burden and John Burden, who have property on Sandpiper Street.

Councillor Michael Kerr was a lone voice in voting against the Mayoral Minute, which was supported by Councillors Abigail Noli and Roy Zammataro and Mayor Leu. Cr David Carey was absent.

“I do not support the Mayoral Minute. It goes against the work undertaken by Council and there are enough people who want the park,” said Cr Kerr.

“There has been a lot of ‘unfounded’ information presented to the residents and I encountered this first-hand when I was at a house in the area when some of this material was distributed. I know that the residents want a dog park.”

Cr Kerr also highlighted the lack of information regarding the “Light up Port” project questioning, for example, where the lights would be placed on Macrossan Street.

Cr Noli said although a dog park was wanted, this was not the right location and they would need to re-visit a different site.

“Macrossan Street is a priority and I am confident Council will do a good job. If more money is needed, then that will be dealt with. We need to do this right,” she said.

Mayor Leu said Council was not abandoning the idea of having a dog park.

“We must get the location right and there are enough sites in Port Douglas, the sporting complex, for example, that could be considered,” she said.

The proposed reallocation of funds allows for the Macrossan St improvements to commence sooner, rather than waiting for the 2019/20 budget adoption.

The submitted petition - below - is available on the Douglas Shire Council website

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