In early February, the Lord Mayor announced in his newsletter that Council would deliver a new off-leash dog park at Jolly Park on the corner of Peel and Grey Street in South Brisbane. While the West End and South Brisbane communities have been calling for a new dog off-leash park, residents were shocked and disappointed with the proposal to locate the new park on the corner of two busy main roads with limited parking, and pedestrian access can be dangerous and difficult.

Before the 2022 floods, 4101 residents and their dogs had access to two official off-leash dog parks at Orleigh Park and Riverside Drive. However, the floods brought contaminated soil to the surface at the Riverside Drive site, and it has been closed since. Brisbane City Council and the State Government agreed they would not reopen the site.

Westenders have been asking where they and their furry friends can exercise and socialise for the past year. 

In a statement, Council told the Westender that:

“The Riverside Drive dog off leash area was a very small facility located on State Government land. Following the February 2022 flood, the State Government indicated its reinstatement would not be supported. The replacement at Jolly Place Park will be of a similar size to the former site at Riverside Drive.”

“The new dog off leash area is likely to have similar features to the former site at Riverside Drive.”

I asked Council for a site design as I have been encouraging Council to follow the blueprints of other councils in Australia and worldwide. While we don’t have many good examples, a dog park should be more than a patch of grass or dirt. 

Dog parks have a purpose: to limit dog fights, disease, and human distraction and to encourage good social interaction between dogs. A dog park should have multiple surfaces (grass, garden beds, rock garden, water play etc.). A good park should also have shade and hiding spaces (trees and cubbies) and interactive activities (agility courses, scent courses, mazes etc.) designed to ensure humans stay and interact with their dogs rather than sitting on a bench on their phones. A good dog park educates people about appropriate dog behaviour and play. Of course, we may not be able to have all of these things in one space, but it is disappointing that Council has advised that there will be nothing in this space other than a bench and water access. 

I met with local Councillor Jonathan Sriranganathan at the site to discuss the issues from an industry-expert perspective. We both agreed the area is tiny, with uneven footing. We also agreed that it is dangerous.

When asked what safety measures would be in place due to the proximity to two main roads, a Council spokesperson said, 

“Dog off-leash areas are fenced and include a gated entry and exit.” 

Dog fights are likely to increase when dogs don’t have enough space to get away from each other. 

“The LNP have said they’re pushing ahead with this location, regardless of what the public thinks because there simply aren’t any other good locations for a DOLA. This, of course, highlights the broader problem that we still don’t have enough public parkland to cater for the approximately 35 000 (and growing) residents who now live in the 4101 postcode,” Cr Sriranganathan said in a Facebook post on 7 February

The other issue, of course, is that people already use this park. There are seats, a water fountain and access to side streets for pedestrians. We are already limited in our green space in 4101, and using the park for a dog off-leash area will take space from local workers and residents. 

“This tiny pocket of green space refuge is needed to be kept as such in the midst of all the asphalt and high-rise concrete surrounding it. It should not be filled up with other uses. I cannot believe that this is the best space for another dog off-leash place,” said Tim Quinn, former Lord Mayor of Brisbane and member of Kurilpa Futures.

Jolly Park on the corner of Peel and Grey Street in South Brisbane.

We can all agree that our fur kids also need green space, but this lot does not need to be at the expense of residents who already use this small park.

When announcing the park, Council said it would act as a replacement for the Riverside dog park for residents of West End. 

I asked locals who used the Riverside Drive dog park before its closure if they would use the new dog park. The overwhelming response, which demonstrated that the Council needed to consult with locals and businesses like mine, was that the majority would not use this new space. The primary reason was that the new park is just too far away and not convenient for people living in West End, especially as there are so few parking options close enough to the area. 

Nevertheless, when asked about the distance from Riverside Drive, a Council spokesperson said, 

“This park is within walking distance of residences. West End and South Brisbane are communities that have low levels of car ownership so it is expected the majority of users of the dog park would travel there by walking.”

Asked if Council has plans for any other new dog parks in West End and South Brisbane, a spokesperson said, “Not at this stage”.

Dog owners now use public spaces for exercising and socialising their dogs, including Davies Park and Musgrave Park. However, these options are not ideal for the space, the dogs, and other users. Council is happy to fine people for using these spaces as dog parks, yet fails to plan for and provide appropriate areas within our ever-growing dog-friendly community. 

The failure to protect current green spaces and being so far behind in understanding the needs of a dog-friendly community is troubling to pawrents and businesses like mine, which are constantly dealing with the consequences of harmful interactions at our dog parks and areas used by dogs. 

Our community deserves a council that respects, protects and promotes fur families and inner-city living with doggos. 

Cover Image by EmilyOnTimeiStock. All other images, Jan Bowman