Changes to Blue (DCC-owned) and Yellow (hunting permit) shading in the Dog Control Bylaw Maps

Karen Anderson made this Official Information request to Dunedin City Council

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Dunedin City Council should have responded by now (details and exceptions). You can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: Karen Anderson

Dear Dunedin City Council,

My preference is to receive the requested information by email.

The report of the Chairperson of the Dog Control Working Party includes the statement:
“The maps have been updated to show the following features: …
A notation that landowner permission will need to be sought where it is not public land. Due to confusion caused, private land areas are no longer marked, but areas requiring a hunting remain displayed; [sic]”
The Appendix states:
“Maps and Bylaws need further clarification due to contradicting information.
Legal advice was provided from the DCC in-house legal counsel as to how we can address matters raised including:
5. Adding wording to the current blue area (DCC owned land) pop up stating that ‘Access requires permission’ or remove the blue areas from the map.
To avoid confusion the blue areas have been removed from the map”

It has not been possible to identify any notation concerning landowner permission for land that is not public land. We have sampled a large number of land parcels that can be indisputably confirmed as privately owned, and all have a pop-up that states “No information”.

We also note the only areas with a “pop-up” referring to the requirement for a hunting permit are areas controlled by DOC. This is not private land.

You will appreciate the enormity of the task to compare all property information with the DCC Dog Control Bylaw Maps to locate privately owned land to which these notations have been applied. After many hours of analysis we are confident the notation does not exist in relation to any private land in the static maps, and it has proven impossible to locate any examples in the interactive maps.

However before we conclude the notation does not exist I have been requested by members of the Dunedin Dog Bylaw Group to ask for a list of all the privately owned land against which the notations concerning permission or hunting permits have been made. I have also been asked to request all information necessary for dog owners to be fully informed of the process they must follow to apply for permission or a hunting permit, and to whom they need to apply.

Inspection of the Bylaw confirms the “blue” shading has been removed. We note the shading was previously applied to areas asserted to be “Council-owned”. We also note the majority (with some few exceptions) of the areas shaded blue were largely recreation or local government purpose reserves in whom control was vested in the DCC pursuant to the operation of the Reserves and other relevant Acts. This is not usually referred to as “Council-owned”, and is not “private” ownership.

As at the date of this request we have been unable to locate any record of areas shaded blue having their reserve status revoked and the land sold to private owners. That is consistent with the rates database which still records the relevant rate-payer as the DCC. The LINZ databases are largely correct as of January 2019. AS the Report was produced in November 2018 there has been adequate time to satisfy the relevant legal obligations that require land records to be updated almost simultaneously with significant changes.
Accordingly I have been requested by members of the Dunedin Dog Bylaw Group to ask for a list of all the areas that were previously shaded “blue” before the blue shading was removed. I have also been asked to request the records relating to that previously “blue” land that will confirm the revocation of the reserve status and subsequent sale to private owners. Note we are not seeking the personal details or identity of the purchasers, merely adequate information to confirm the purchaser was “private”.

Given the revocation of reserve status is a formal process I have also been asked to request you provide either references to, or if not publicly available on-line, all information relating to the revocation of reserve status and sale to private owners, being not least the Gazette notices by which the Minister revoked the status, the required DCC resolutions as well as all documentation considered as part of making the resolution, the notices publishing the intention to revoke, the objections to the revocation, and the full records of hearings considering those objections.

We also note the “blue” shading remains on the static maps and also on various signs. Accordingly I have been requested by members of the Dunedin Dog Bylaw Group to ask for the case-law or legislative provisions on which the DCC in-house legal counsel relies for the principle that contradictions between parts of documents are appropriately dealt with by changing one part of the documents so as to increase the contradictions, and support that by leaving in place signage that creates a further source of contradictions.
We also note these areas continue to be freely accessed by the public despite their sale to private owners. This is exacerbated by the lack of information about the changes and subsequent sale, and leaving DCC signage in place. We also note areas remain unfenced and have not been gated so there is no impediment to free access, and the existing DCC chains and barriers and pedestrian “zig-zag” type entrances have been left in place which further creates the impression the land has not changed status and continues to be available for public use.

Accordingly I have been requested by members of the Dunedin Dog Bylaw Group to ask what and when steps will be taken to inform the public these areas are no longer public places and may not be entered, when the signs relating to public use will be removed and when the DCC will lodge the relevant and legally required records so that public records are accurate.

I have also been asked to request the evidence of confusion concerning access to these areas. Note I reviewed the audio records of all meetings while transcribing them and have also reviewed them since receiving the report. I have been unable to locate the place in any audio record of any meeting where this confusion was discussed.
We note I have easily located the Manager Compliance Solutions stating the intention to unilaterally add a pop-up to the maps without notice that would inform dog owners they would have to obtain permission to access all “blue” areas. I have located the place in the audio record this intention was challenged. I also record the issue was further challenged by email sent to the DCC Chief Executive Officer on 3 November 2017, reflecting concerns that DCC non-elected officials intended to unilaterally impose this additional requirement on dog owners.

Accordingly I have been requested by members of the Dunedin Dog Bylaw Group to ask for the dates of the Working Party meetings and times in the audio record the Working Party members considered evidence of the existence of confusion and that it would be suitably resolved by adding pop-ups or removing the blue shading.

I have also been requested to ask for a complete list of all areas that have been removed, including identifying which of those areas are “privately-owned”.
Yours faithfully,

Karen Anderson

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