Draft Companion Animal Management Plan on public exhibition

Greater Sydney Parklands is committed to creating parks for people that are inclusive, safe, comfortable, accessible and fun.

Draft Companion Animal Management Plan, Callan ParkWe understand dogs play an important part in many people's lives, and they offer companionship, contribute to wellbeing and are part of the family. Data provided by Inner West Council suggests that over 42% of households own a dog and that more than 35,000 of them live in the area. However, we also know that some people may choose not to have pets of their own and prefer to enjoy places that are pet-free.

Callan Park has always been popular for dog owners to walk their dogs, but visitation is also increasing for those without dogs who wish to use the area for passive recreation.

In April and May 2021, we conducted extensive consultation to gather data and ideas on how dogs should be managed in Callan Park. Feedback has been used to develop the first Companion Animal Management Plan (CAMP) for Callan Park that reflects the community's needs and all park users of Callan Park.

Have your say

We now want your feedback to make sure we are on the right track to ensure all can enjoy Callan Park, whether you are a dog owner or not.

The draft Companion Animal Management Plan aims to balance the interests of all park users, including dogs and their owners, while minimising the potential for conflict between dogs and other users. Essentially it is a plan whereby all who visit and use Callan Park can share the space equitably.

You can now view and make a submission on the draft plan.

View plan

Review the plan, check out our map of on and off-leash areas and have your say by the closing date of 9 February 2022. Submissions can be emailed directly to us at CAMP@dpie.nsw.gov.au

On Monday 13 December, the Greater Sydney Parklands Team held an information session where the team discussed the plan an answered questions from the community. If you missed it, you can view the recording of the session.

Go to webinar

The Companion Animals Act 1998 establishes that all public land in New South Wales is on-leash unless designated as off-leash. All of Callan Park is on-leash except for the 3 sports fields, which are designated off-leash when there is no sporting activity occurring. The off-leash designation of the sports fields was made by Inner West Council, the Local Authority under the Companion Animals Act and the lessee of the sports fields.

A common misconception (confirmed during consultation held earlier this year) is that all of Callan Park is designated off-leash. This is not the case, and enforcement of the on-leash rule has been inconsistent. The plan is needed to provide certainty and clarity for dog owners about where their dogs must be on-leash – to protect heritage and landscape areas and share the space with other park users – and to create new areas where dogs can be exercised off-leash. Dog owners are reminded that they must keep their dog under control at all times in Callan Park (and indeed everywhere in New South Wales), whether it is a designated off-leash area or not.

Greater Sydney Parklands is developing a series of operational plans for Callan Park that will support our work in providing safe and equitable parkland spaces for the community, where we can continue to ensure that heritage is conserved and the environment is protected. The draft Companion Animal Management Plan is the first one of these operational plans to be developed.

The areas proposed to be designated as off-leash in the draft Companion Animal Management Plan are:

  • Callan Point Beach (dogs must be on-leash on the approach to the beach)
  • Bonnyview Cottage Gardens – except for within 10 metres of the sandstone building (heritage exclusion zone)
  • Central Green
  • Wharf Road Gardens
  • Balmain Road Green
  • Balmain Road Sporting Ground, Glover Street Sporting Ground and Waterfront sporting ground when not in use for organised sport (there is no change proposed to the current off-leash zones in the sporting field).

Greater Sydney Parklands contracted CRED consulting to undertake community consultation and develop a draft Companion Animal Management Plan. Engagement with local dog owners, commercial dog walkers, local community groups, sporting groups, general park users and the local community was undertaken between April and May 2021.

Extensive detail of the consultation process is included in the draft plan but below is a summary of the key themes that have directly fed into its development:

  • owners value the open spaces available for their dogs – many people thought that the whole of Callan Park is designated off-leash
  • access to unique open green spaces for exercise, relaxation, socialisation and connection to nature is important for humans, not just dogs
  • a high value was placed on bushland and opportunities to connect with nature in Callan Park
  • Callan Point beach was identified as a key area for dogs to be off-leash
  • respondents recognised and supported the protection of significant First Nations cultural sites and sensitive bushland areas
  • shared spaces in Callan Park need to clearly identify on-leash dog areas and prohibited areas so families can enjoy picnics
  • off-leash areas for dogs need to be provided and clearly identified, including a fenced exercise area
  • increased education of dog owners/responsibility of dog owners is desired
  • regulation and enforcement in Callan Park are needed to manage dogs
  • roads and safety concerns with speeding cyclists is an issue for people and dogs
  • increased amenities for dogs and humans are needed
  • sharing of sports fields for dog off-leash access needs to be retained.

The community is now encouraged to review the draft plan and make a submission by 9 February 2022.

The plan has taken longer than expected to develop due to the great response received during consultation earlier in the year. We had to review almost 2000 responses to surveys, our interactive map, feedback from stakeholders and focus groups. It took time to review all this great feedback and prepare a plan. We promised the community that the plan would be made public before the end of the year and are keeping that promise. We understand the challenges of putting a plan on public exhibition at this time, so we have more than doubled the usual consultation time (28 days) for plans like this and are taking submissions until 9 February 2022.

We are also holding a community webinar on 13 December for the community to get an overview of the plan and ask any questions they have early in the process.

We encourage you to read the draft plan in full, look at the information, and email your questions and feedback to CAMP@dpie.nsw.gov.au. We will also be updating theinformation as possible.

The Companion Animal Management Plan contains recommendations to legally designate off-leash areas in Callan Park for the first time, giving the community confidence of the areas where dogs can run free and the rules for those areas. They have been selected based on the following criteria to ensure spaces provided for dogs and their owners are safe, in appropriate locations and contribute to the equitable access and sharing of public spaces in the park.

Proposed off-leash areas in Callan Park are based on the following criteria:

  • be accessible and easily identifiable
  • not impact heritage buildings or landscapes
  • have minimal impacts on other park uses – located away from high traffic pedestrian and cycle areas of the park
  • not impact sensitive or significant sites.

Sixty-four per cent (or 24.3 hectares) of the 38 hectares Greater Sydney Parklands manage will be off leash for dogs (this includes the 3 sporting fields which will be off leash when there is no organised sport on the fields). 46% of the park will be off leash when the sporting fields are in use.

Under the draft plan, Balmain Road Green is proposed as a fenced off-leash park and includes appropriate amenities (double gates, fencing, lighting, bins, and water). We welcome your feedback on this proposal as we explore this concept further.

The following areas are proposed to remain on-leash in Callan Park. They are areas of high pedestrian/cycling activity, picnicking and passive recreation, and protect heritage buildings and landscapes as well as sensitive and significant sites.

  • The Bay Run
  • Waterfront Green
  • Waterfront Sporting Ground (when not in use for community sport)
  • Callan Point
  • The Convalescent Cottages
  • Kirkbride Gardens
  • The area immediately surrounding Writing NSW Gardens
  • Wharf Road
  • Areas under the administration of NSW Health
  • A 10-metre area immediately surrounding Bonnyview, also known as Gardener's Cottage.

Callan Park will be on-leash at all times between 10 pm and 5 am to protect native wildlife (except in the 3 council managed sports fields where the current arrangements will remain unchanged).

Dogs are allowed off-leash at Callan Beach on the eastern side only, as defined in the map. Dogs will need to be on-leash on the western side of the headland. This is a popular area for picnics and a high traffic area, so it is not appropriate for off-leash.

Under the proposed Companion Animal Management Plan, off-leash areas should not impact heritage buildings or landscapes. Consideration needs to be given to protecting the amenity of heritage buildings and their curtilages, historical plantings, gardens and monuments and significant cultural sites and places of connection for First Nations people – these are considered to be heritage sensitive areas.

Under current rules, dogs are only allowed off-leash on the sporting fields when not in use. In all other areas of Callan Park, dogs should be on-leash.

Greater Sydney Parklands owns Kirkbride Gardens, which is why it is part of Callan Park.

The area around Kirkbride is proposed to remain as on-leash due to the heritage significance of the building and the gardens, as well as ensuring consistency with on-leash rules for the whole Kirkbride area. Kirkbride, and the land outside Kirkbride (bounded by the road), is owned by NSW Health and is on-leash now and will remain so.

Feedback from consultation told us that dog owners want to walk their dogs safely at night in the park; however, there were many others who expressed the need for wildlife in the park to be protected. To balance this need, the plan recommends that dogs can be exercised at night but must be on a lead between 10 pm and 5 am to protect native wildlife living in the park. New lighting is being proposed as part of the waterfront revitalisation at Callan Park and will be installed once the current plans are finalised and then approved.

The draft Companion Animal Management Plan guides the Greater Sydney Parklands' management of dogs in Callan Park. We will be working with Inner West Council to undertake education and enforcement to ensure that the park is shared by everyone, including people who don't walk dogs in Callan Park.

As part of the implementation of the Companion Animal Management Plan, Greater Sydney Parklands will publish material on responsible pet ownership, aimed at educating people about their responsibilities to share the park equitably and avoid impacting other park users when walking dogs.

The plan has been designed to ensure that the space at Callan Park can be shared by those who have dogs, and those who do not. Dogs will need to be on-leash in the main walking and picnicking areas (Bay Run and Waterfront Green). Under the Companion Animals Act dogs are prohibited from children's play areas (we are planning to have a pop-up playground in Callan Park in late December and throughout the school holidays), and from sporting fields when they are in use. Longer term a permanent play space is earmarked for the area at the back of Waterfront Sportsfield, and dogs will be prohibited within 10 metres. Subject to future uses for buildings, there may be opportunities for food and beverage outlets that comply with the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act 2002. In such cases there would similarly be an exclusion zone.

Even in off-leash zones, owners are required by law to have their dogs under effective control at all times.

Cats are required to be restrained by a leash or in a cage at all times in Callan Park.

The draft plan contains an action plan for its implementation which also ensures that there is greater clarity regarding the management of companion animals and responsibilities to uphold the Companion Animals Act throughout the whole of Callan Park (including the Greater Sydney Parklands managed areas, Inner West Council leased areas and NSW Health managed areas). Greater Sydney Parklands will adopt an 'inform and educate' approach to enforcement using a phased approach that will include education, communication and finally, enforcement.

The draft Companion Animal Management Plan has been developed for the 38 hectares that are managed by Greater Sydney Parklands. Within the 22 hectares owned by NSW Health the Companion Animals Act will continue to apply as is currently the case, and Inner West Council will solely be responsible for regulating the Act in Health precincts. This means that dogs must continue to be on-leash at all times in the areas managed by NSW Health and Inner West Council is the consent authority. Signage throughout the park and education online will clarify these arrangements.

The draft Companion Animal Management Plan has been developed for the 38 hectares that Greater Sydney Parklands manage. Within the 22 hectares owned by NSW Health the Companion Animals Act will continue to apply as is currently the case, and Inner West Council will solely be responsible for regulating the Act in Health precincts. This means that dogs must continue to be on-leash at all times in the areas managed by NSW Health and Inner West Council is the consent authority. Signage throughout the park and education online will clarify these arrangements.

Greater Sydney Parklands will implement the draft Companion Animal Management Plan once the Board endorses it. The off-leash areas will need to be formally designated before they become legal. Further work to confirm the location, size and extent of facilities in the proposed off-leash space will be carried out in 2022. A phased approach to enforcement of the Companion Animals Act and Regulations will be adopted, including education, communication, and ranger patrols.