Dog park advocates barking up the wrong tree

Waiting for a dog off-leash area in Warwick. Picture: Unsplash

By Jenel Hunt

It’s been a dogged few months for a plan to build a fenced off-leash and adventure area for the canines of Warwick.

After months of discussions about building a Warwick Dog Off-Leash Area with Victoria Park seemingly the winner from a number of sites considered, the Southern Downs Regional Council has decided to instead consider the Queens Park area near Alice Street and Park Road.

While some people might have assumed Victoria Park was a ‘done deal’ after all the talk about the site, apparently those who thought so were barking up the wrong tree.

One of the major arguments against the site was the proximity of the hospital and subsequent parking issues and the other was that the park had been designated a green space and the dog off-leash area would impinge on that use.

Cr Ross Bartley said, “I think it’s low-hanging fruit to pick that park. It is one of our more pristine parks. It needs to remain an open air park, and to start to look at other uses would mean we are starting to eat into that.”

The vote for that site triggered a division that saw women on one side and men on the other, with Councillors McDonald, McNally and Windle in favour and the remaining five councillors against. (Cr Gliori was absent as he was an apology for the meeting.)

Cr Jo McNally was clearly disappointed.

“We’ve done the community engagement, and we’re not going to listen to the community yet again in this term,” she said.

Australiana Park, which had already been discussed in previous meetings as being not suitable for a number of reasons including the difficulty of getting in and out of the park for cars that had to cross the line of traffic, was once again the subject of dialogue but there was no serious move to push for the site.

After the motion for Victoria Park failed, the Mayor, Cr Vic Pennisi, put up a successful motion that the council consider the Queens Park site in the Alice Street/Park Road vicinity once consultation had been undertaken with the Condamine River Sports Group Committee about the matter.

Warwick’s original dog off-leash area was at a different part of Queens Park in a flood-prone area and was destroyed by floodwater.