Unleashed early birds

09. 21NEWS

Louise Ainsworth (right) and fellow early-morning dog walker Karen, who’s keen for the Esplanade to go leash-free after being pinged a few times by rangers

DOGS may soon be able to roam leash-free on Fremantle’s Esplanade reserve—but only early in the morning.

The council this week voted to initiate a change to by-laws to allow pooches off the lead on the reserve between 5-9am. Plans to hold a trial were scuttled when council corporate services chief Glen Dougal pointed out it would be trumped by existing by-laws, despite an identical trial being carried out on Gilbert Fraser oval in North Fremantle last year.

The public will get a say on the change when it is formally advertised.

Dog owner Louise Ainsworth is behind the push and told the Herald it would have very little impact on other park users.

Heading down to the park for an early-morning photo shoot with the Herald, she pointed out it was almost deserted except for a maintenance crew and another dog walker.

“There’s two good reasons to do this; the first is that it supports the council’s planning policy which is to get people living in the inner city,” she told the Herald. “Some of those people are going to own dogs.

“The second is environmental. The nearest dog exercise area is 15 minutes away, so a lot of people just put their dogs in their car.”

Beaconsfield councillor Josh Wilson was nervous about approving the plan, saying he had concerns about mixing dogs with children.

“I’d be the first to kick the dogs off if the experiment failed,” he barked.

But ultimately he voted to approve the plan.

Colleague Dave Hume voted against it, predicting the mix of free-range dogs and kids won’t work.

He wants the council to draft a policy on the issue of leash-free areas so the council doesn’t go through the same debate for every park. He was joined by Bill Massie and Doug Thompson.

But city warder Tim Grey-Smith, the father of two young kids, says “you can’t wrap kids up in cotton wool”.


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