Off-leash dog exercise policy and safety on shared paths

Rod Badcock made this Official Information request to Hutt City Council

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Hutt City Council should normally have responded promptly and by (details and exceptions)

From: Rod Badcock

Dear Hutt City Council,

OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACCESS REQUEST
There appears to be some discrepancy between Council Bylaw and Policy, what is shown on HCC GIS, signposting and safety regarding off-leash dog walking areas in the environs of the Hutt River.
The pertinent information is available at https://www.huttcity.govt.nz/services/do... where it clearly states that off-leash dog walking is excluded from sealed paths:
“Reynolds Bach Drive to Port Road. If you’re using the sealed pathway on top of the riverbank, your dog must be on a lead.”
In addition, HCC have placed a (very few) signs on the western shared path at the Ava rail bridge as shown in attached photos:

This would appear to be in accordance with the 2015 Bylaw and Policy that allows Council to redesignate for safety reasons. (Although signage does not meet the Bylaw obligations):
https://hccpublicdocs.azurewebsites.net/...
"1.1 OVERVIEW
1.1.1 In order to meet the reasonable needs of dog owners and promote animal welfare, to clearly identify to the public where dogs may and may not be exercised, and to minimize danger, distress and nuisance to the community generally and to safeguard the welfare of children the Council will designate specified dog exercise areas and specified dog prohibition areas. "
Clearly HCC have failed to ‘clearly identify to the public where this cannot, and can, be carried out. This breaches Council Policy.
Furthermore, not only is the clear identification specifically further mentioned in 1.3.1 but also in 1.3.2. The 2015 Bylaw goes further and sets the case that areas should be revoked for safety and amenity under Section 1.3.3 h and j:
"1.3 DOG EXERCISE AREAS
1.3.1 In order to meet the reasonable needs of dog owners and promote animal welfare and also to clearly identify to the public where dogs may and may not be exercised, the Council will designate specified dog exercise areas.
1.3.2 Designated dog exercise areas are established by ordinary Council resolution under the Hutt City Council Dog Control Bylaw 2015. They are set out on Councils website at huttcity.govt.nz. It is important to have a number of exercise areas available within Hutt City for dogs to be exercised. These are clearly signposted and include most Council parks and reserves, the Hutt River banks and drainage reserves in Wainuiomata.
1.3.3 The matters that Council must have regard to in making a decision to establish or disestablish a dog exercise area are as follows:
h. (the need to minimise danger, distress, and nuisance to the community generally;
i. the need to avoid the inherent danger in allowing dogs to have uncontrolled access to public places that are frequented by children, whether or not the children are accompanied by adults;
j. the importance of enabling, to the extent that is practicable, the public (including families) to use streets and public amenities without fear of attack or intimidation by dogs; "
It should be noted that in the Riverlink Environment Court judgement the following observations were made (para 256) with respect to paths through a dog park:
"But to place an unfenced cycle path in any area specifically designated as a dog playing/exercise area is to knowingly impose a raised risk for all users - the cyclists, the dogs, and their owners. The separation of the areas of such incompatible activities requires attention in the design of the project, and perhaps also in the consent conditions. Conditions should be amended appropriately”
I was therefore surprised to find that the HCC GIS specifically shows the shared paths (excluded from off-leash) as being off-leash exercise areas: https://huttcity.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Vi...
This is also shown in the attached image. Off-leash areas are quite clearly shown in the exclusion areas:

I raised a question with councillors about the GIS maps not being correct – as this is obviously not the case according to Council own information. The response was from Tom Biggin, Project Manager - Riverlink is as follows:
“In response to your question the Council's (and its partners) response was set out in, and the issue addressed in, the memorandum provided to the Court for RiverLink provided to you, all parties and the Court on 30 September 2022. The Court has responded on 21 October ahead of their final decision.”
I would submit the GIS Maps and response to the Riverlink Court *must be in error* given the Council own information. I would also note that I raised a concern about veracity of digital information and a genuine safety concern that was shared by the Riverlink Environment Court – as an illustration.
During lockdown a high profile injury was sustained to an off-leash dog in exactly this sealed path. Incidents are common, and the danger is real. I do not know why HCC is not acting on its own policy and information. Currently there are a number of significant deficiencies:
1. Clearly stated off-leash exclusion areas are not clearly marked to meet the requirements of the HCC 2015 bylaw
2. The Huttcity GIS maps are incorrect and shown off-leash areas in specifically excluded areas
3. The 2015 Bylaw call on HCC to revoke areas for safety reasons. High throughput commuting paths have these safety concerns
I therefore I request the following information to be released:
1. When was the GIS map released that shows this incorrect designation of off-leash dog exercise on sealed paths?
2. How many requests, and when, have HCC had about the status of off-leash dog exercise areas in sealed path locations of the Hutt River?
3. Why are the off-leash dog walking exclusion areas not clearly identified as per 2015 Bylaw?
4. When will clear and complete signage be placed to make clear the off-leash exclusion areas?
5. What advice (and when) has HCC given to members of the public, or official responses, about status of off-leash dog exercise areas and the sealed paths on the Hutt River?
6. What incidents with off-leash dogs, and how many, are HCC aware of on sealed paths on the Hutt River?
7. Will HCC enact the 2015 bylaw and remove all shared cycling / walking paths as being off-leash dog exercise areas on safety grounds?
I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Rod Badcock

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From: Rod Badcock

Dear Hutt City Council,

Please find attached the referenced images and a pdf of the OIA request:
https://filedropper.com/d/s/MUzAlxWp5qrM...

Yours faithfully,

Rod Badcock

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From: Rod Badcock

Dear Hutt City Council,

Sorry a working link for the pdf is: https://filedropper.com/d/s/gCpaoKagtkbm...

Yours faithfully,

Rod Badcock

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From: Information Management Team
Hutt City Council

Tēnā koe Rod

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL INFORMATION AND MEETINGS ACT 1987: ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF REQUEST

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your official information request dated 15 November 2022 (and subsequent email of 16 November 2022) for information regarding off-leash dog areas on Hutt River trails/areas.

We will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible and in any event no later than 20 working days after the day your request was received. If we are unable to respond to your request by then, we will notify you of an extension of that timeframe.

Please note that some of the Hutt River bank area is under the control of Greater Wellington Regional Council. Accordingly, we recommend that you direct your enquiry to Greater Wellington Regional Council, as Hutt City Council will not be able to respond on its behalf.

Please note that Hutt City Council's response to your information request may be published on Hutt City Council’s website.

Nāku noa, nā

Susan Sales
Senior Advisor, Official Information and Privacy

Hutt City Council, 30 Laings Road, Private Bag 31912, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
W www.huttcity.govt.nz

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From: Rod Badcock

Dear Information Management Team,

Following your advice:
"Please note that some of the Hutt River bank area is under the control of Greater Wellington Regional Council. Accordingly, we recommend that you direct your enquiry to Greater Wellington Regional Council, as Hutt City Council will not be able to respond on its behalf."

I lodged this as an OIA with Greater Wellington who confirm that it is purely a Hutt City issue:
'Your request has been passed onto several GW departments and I have been informed – “The bylaws for dogs are managed by HCC, we do not manage these and never have”'

Please ensure that HCC provide a complete response.

Yours sincerely,

Rod Badcock

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From: Information Management Team
Hutt City Council

Thank you Rod.

I acknowledge your email below.

Susan

Ngā mihi
 
Susan Sales
Ringa Āwhina Tāhūhū ki Te Koromatua | Senior Advisor
Te Kaunihera o Te Awa Kairangi | Hutt City Council, 30 Laings Road, Private Bag 31912, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
Paetukutuku: www.huttcity.govt.nz

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From: Rod Badcock

Tēnā koe Susan,

I am a little surprised to have not heard back within the legal time limit - is there some missing communication as to why the legal time limit is being breached for LGOIA request?

Nga mihi,

Rod Badcock

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From: Information Management Team
Hutt City Council

Kia ora Rod

Notice of Decision – Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) 1987

Thank you for your email below. Your information request was received by Hutt City Council on 18 November 2022. The Council is required to notify you of its decision on your information request no later than today, 14 December 2022.

Hutt City Council has decided to grant your request for the information you seek. You will be sent the responses to your questions as soon as possible and no later than Friday, 23 December 2022.

Some of the information you requested is not held by Hutt City Council because we do not record it. Where this applies, we are refusing your request under section 17(g) of the LGOIMA, on the grounds that the information is not held by Hutt City Council.

You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this response. Information about how to make a complaint is available at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or freephone 0800 802 602.

Ngā mihi
 
Susan Sales
Ringa Āwhina Tāhūhū ki Te Koromatua | Senior Advisor, Official Information and Privacy
Te Kaunihera o Te Awa Kairangi | Hutt City Council, 30 Laings Road, Private Bag 31912, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
Paetukutuku: www.huttcity.govt.nz

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From: Rod Badcock

Dear Susan,

Your reply is *incorrect* in its dates. You acknowledged receipt of the request received on 15th November. Please review the public record on FYI that you made.

As such HCC has breached the 20 working days without offering reason.

Furthermore *no justification* has been made as to why HCC will delay further to 23rd December.

I am disappointed.

Tena koe

Rod Badcock

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From: Information Management Team
Hutt City Council

Thank you for your email Rod.

We expect to provide you with the response to your questions in the next few days. The draft response is currently being consulted upon.

Regards, Susan

Ngā mihi
 
Susan Sales
Ringa Āwhina Tāhūhū ki Te Koromatua | Senior Advisor Official Information and Privacy
Te Kaunihera o Te Awa Kairangi | Hutt City Council, 30 Laings Road, Private Bag 31912, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
Paetukutuku: www.huttcity.govt.nz

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From: Information Management Team
Hutt City Council


Attachment Response Rod Badcock.pdf
273K Download View as HTML


Kia ora Rod

Please find attached our response to your LGOIMA dated 15 November 2022.

We apologise in the delays associated with responding to your request.

Ngā mihi
 
Susan Sales
Ringa Āwhina Tāhūhū ki Te Koromatua | Senior Advisor
Te Kaunihera o Te Awa Kairangi | Hutt City Council, 30 Laings Road, Private Bag 31912, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
Paetukutuku: www.huttcity.govt.nz

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From: Rod Badcock

Dear Susan,

I note that the specific questions *have not been answered*. Please ensure that the questions are answered
In particular:
Q1 Has not been answered.
Q2 Has not been answered - you have provided specific written instruction to environment court on Riverlink. Please answer.
Q3. Has not been answered. There is no clear signage posted on the sections identified by the 2015 bylaw that specifically states this is required.
Q4 Has not been answered, and is incorrect. Please review what signage, and where, is in place as per 2015 bylaw
Q5 Not answered. HCC has provided official response to the environment court and others. This is not stated here.

The Officers response is deficient in information, quality, and content. It seems probable that this was a minimal effort. There can be *no* justification for the delay in responding.

Does this really need the ombudsmen to be involved for HCC to respond?

Rod

Yours sincerely,

Rod Badcock

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From: Information Management Team
Hutt City Council

Kia ora Rod

Request for Information – Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) 1987

Thank you for your email of 20 December 2022.

Additional information and responses to your points are provided below.
1. The Hutt City Council is not able to provide an accurate date for the GIS map, but it is likely from 2015 or thereabouts.
2. Hutt City Council is not aware of receiving any other requests for information about the status of off-leash dog exercise areas in sealed path locations. Any information we have provided to the Environment Court is publicly available here: https://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/riverlink...
3. Signage is placed on the riverbank at entrances that are alongside residential areas (for example, at Mill Street, Block Road and Melling Reserve), as these entrances are the most used by dog owners.
4. Please see the response to question 3 above. We are unable to advise when new signage will be installed because future actions of the Hutt City Council are, at this stage, unknown.
5. We are not aware of any other advice being given about the status of off-leash dog exercise areas in sealed path locations, other than that provided on the Council’s website and riverbank signage. As advised above, any information we have provided to the Environment Court is publicly available here: https://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/riverlink....

The final design of the RiverLink active transport network will be developed in accordance with the consent conditions as directed by the Environment Court. The Hutt City Council has not yet commenced the final design to determine how the consent conditions will be translated into the project.

You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this response. Information about how to make a complaint is available at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or freephone 0800 802 602.

Please note that this response may be published on the Council’s website.

Ngā mihi
 
Susan Sales
Ringa Āwhina Tāhūhū ki Te Koromatua | Senior Advisor
Te Kaunihera o Te Awa Kairangi | Hutt City Council, 30 Laings Road, Private Bag 31912, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand
Paetukutuku: www.huttcity.govt.nz

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From: Rod Badcock

Kia Ora Susan and Nga mihi o te Tau Houi,

Given that HCC agree that the GIS map is incorrect, that the dog control pages actually refer to this incorrect information as to where off leash is allowed, this really needs correction.

In your response you acknowledge that only *some* entrances have the signage on the path ... "
"Signage is placed on the riverbank at entrances that are alongside residential areas (for example, at Mill Street, Block Road and Melling Reserve), as these entrances are the most used by dog owners.". This is misleading - indeed HCC place more signs for dogs about the algae when present than enforcing the bylaw. Given there is widespread confusion in the community about where, and when not, off-leash walking is allowed, that the HCC information page and GIS map is incorrect, and the lack of sufficient signage, please confirm:
1. That the GIS map referred to in 1 does not represent the current bylaw and needs updating
2. When will the GIS map be updated?
3. That HCC recognize that there is confusion caused through this and more, clearer, signage is needed?

Nga mihi

Rod Badcock

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Things to do with this request

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