Around thirty dog owners turned up at the meeting to make a last ditch plea to the Board to change its mind but to no avail. Chairman Walden and his ‘green’ Board had already made up their minds. He tried to diffuse the obvious anger and dismay of dog owners by saying that people were free to break the new by-laws because Council did not have the resources to police the large number of island tracks. Which begs the question – why introduce them then. Laws that cannot be policed are bad laws.
He also promised a review of the by-laws next year, something that cannot and will not happen. As the dog lobby has found out it takes years and years to review by-laws. Ask Barbara Wilkinson who has been fighting for more dog-friendly times for dog owners to be able to exercise their pets on beaches for years.
He further claimed his ‘hands were tied’ because of existing by-laws that said dogs had to be ‘on leash on trails’. This was an out and out lie. The only places where dogs had to be on leash were in the few sites of ecological significance (SES). The only such sites at the western end of the island can be found here and are virtually non-existent as far as the many trails used by dog owners are concerned.
Of course, the local ‘papers’ will apply their usual whitewash and portray the Board as being conciliatory while missing the main story which is that Waiheke is now one of the most dog unfriendly places in Auckland.
I’m told by sources close to the Board that the reason behind the banning of dogs from trails and restricting their presence on beaches is part of a softening up process for more draconian laws to come. They intend to try and blanket the island with Marine Reserves. And of course no dogs are allowed in Marine Reserves.
This is only the beginning.Once hard won freedoms are gone they are gone forever.
Waiheke Local Board makes dogs breakfast of by-laws
Tourists not welcome