I am sure you have been inundated with emails and letters about the foreshore trail dogs-or-no-dogs issue. To me, it is not so much a question of who is right but rather a question of “What kind of community do we want to be?” Do we want to be a community where special interest groups create unnecessary rules and barriers that lead to the exclusion of specific community members? Or do we want to be an inclusive community that is able to appreciate different interest groups and work together for a thoughtful and fair compromise?
I definitely hope that, as a community, we can work together so everyone can be educated about the ecological sensitivity of the foreshore trail while, at the same time, the trail can be respectfully accessible to all.
Obviously, letting dogs run off-leash is not an appropriate solution nor is the past practice of dog owners experiencing a foreshore trail rite of passage of being “bullied by a birder” while trying to enjoy the trail with their on-leash pet.
Moving forward, we need to work together to ensure that all citizens and visitors understand and respect the sensitivity of the area. It is very difficult to educate people if they have been banned from the area. The foreshore trail is one of the only trails in our beautiful city that is flat, scenic and centrally located.
Many of these user groups are dog owners and they should have the option to exercise, appreciate, and learn about the outdoors with their furry friends while respecting the need to keep their dog on-leash and cleaning up after their pet.
I truly hope that mayor and council will be able to help the various interest groups work together to reach a thoughtful compromise that supports an inclusive, caring, educated and healthy community. That is the kind of community I want for my family, my friends, my neighbours, and anyone else who wants to appreciate the natural beauty of our area, whether they are dog owners or not.