Het opheffen van hondenverboden in het centrum van de stad kan hen de beste vriend van een zakenman makenoktober 3, 2019
As Marlborough businesses try to make the CBD more attractive, one solution could be staring them in the face, with puppy dog eyes. Sophie Trigger does some digging.
First they were banned, then they were allowed, then they were banned again. Could council do another dog leg on dog laws?
Marlborough has had a storied history with man’s best friend, following a town centre ban in Blenheim in the late 1990s and many years of conflicting policies there after.
Marlborough district councillor Jamie Arbuckle said he arrived at the council in 2010 to a contradiction – the dog control bylaw prohibited dogs from the town centre and the dog policy allowed them.
“I don’t know how it got out of kilter, that the policy and bylaws were conflicting,” said Arbuckle, who chairs the animal control sub-committee.
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“The main thing was the signage said ‘no dogs’ and people generally were abiding by the signage.”
On October 1, 2012, the council adopted a new policy and bylaw – a 35-page document – which set the record straight. Dogs were not allowed in the Blenheim central business district.
The bylaw change followed contentious submissions from more than 300 people, including 22 who appeared in person over two days of hearings.
Since the official dog ban was introduced in 2012, the council has had 10 complaints involving dogs in prohibited areas, and 15 infringements.
Nine of these related to a dog in the prohibited CBD area, incurring a $300 fine.
All nine went to court because the fines were not paid, and in two of the instances, the owner did not have to pay the fine.
Blenheim dog owner Deborah Marett often walks her dog Billy along the Taylor River, but does not think the town centre is a place for dogs.
“I don’t see any need for them to go into town, unless you’re impaired in some way,” Marett said.
Back at the beginning of 2012, The Marlborough Express reported that any mention of dog policy and bylaw “usually creates a slew of online discussion and letters to the editor”.
More than seven years on, the same is still true. A Marlborough Express article published last week about livening the Blenheim CBD prompted renewed calls for dogs to be allowed in the town centre.
The 65th Black Hawk National Dog Show will take place in Blenheim from October 2-5. The show will feature 1400 dogs from more than 120 breeds, competing at A&P Park, the Stadium 2000 and the Marlborough Convention Centre.
The council plans to lift the town’s dog control bylaw during the show, allowing dogs in town for the first time in a dog’s life. Arbuckle said council will use the show as a trial run for another bylaw change, measuring its success on the number of public complaints.
“Any feedback will be recorded and will feed into future bylaw review.”
One of the main attractions for Blenheim’s dog owners is being able to take their dog to a cafe, but cafes were divided on the idea.
Market Street Cafe owner Dianne Grant said she wouldn’t enjoy having dogs outside her business – they would frighten her.
“Only because I’m afraid of big dogs, I wouldn’t like to have to walk past a big dog outside the cafe or a shop,” Grant said.
“I wouldn’t sit next to a big dog. With little kids, you never know what a dog’s going to do.”
Thomas & Sons Eatery waitress Lottie Savage said lifting the dog ban probably wouldn’t affect business.
“I think it’s probably a good idea, because Taylor River’s so close,” Savage said.
“It might be nice to have people who are out and about already just popping into town, if they’re just getting a coffee or doing a wee job on a Saturday morning.”
A dog-friendly town centre could even reduce cars in the area, bringing more foot traffic to local businesses.
Little Cafe on Charles owner Sharon Evans said her business welcomed furry friends, even when they turned up illegally from time to time.
“We don’t mind at all, we love dogs,” Evans said.
“And the people that do bring dogs have well-trained dogs. They don’t hurt anybody, they just sit there.”
Former mayor Liz Davidson was a staunch supporter of lifting the dog ban. In fact, she remembers campaigning with her King Charles Cavalier spaniel Rufus outside the council building, protesting dog laws imposed in the late 1990s.
She had “a whole succession of dogs over many years” and used to walk her rottweiler Kaiser – “a real character of a dog” – through town in the early 90s.
“Sometimes I’d sneak them through town. You could work out your route so you just weren’t quite in the central area.”
Davidson said she was excited about a dog-friendly October in the town centre.
“Provided they pick up their poo, I don’t see anything wrong with it myself,” Davidson said. “It will give dog owners the opportunity to see if their dogs are well-behaved or not.”