By Shelby Brooks
A Pakenham dog walker says he is dismayed at Cardinia Shire Council for turning down a petition to install lighting at the Don Jackson Dog Park.
John Nicholson spearheaded the push to ask council to install solar lighting within the Ahern Road reserve to provide additional opportunity for people to exercise their dogs between 5.30pm and 7.30pm in winter months.
The petition, which gained 107 signatures, was voted down at the council meeting on Monday 19 July.
“Most workers don’t get home until well after 5pm at night,” Mr Nicholson said.
“The park is about to outgrow itself. There can be more than 30 dogs at the park at the busiest times.”
He gained signatures from people from Emerald, Gembrook, Beaconsfield, Officer, Kooweerup, Bunyip, Longwarry and Warragul who all travel to use the facility regularly.
“It’s the largest in the shire and that’s why everyone is coming here,” he said.
“It’s grown beyond expectations- maybe council needs to look at bigger, more long-term solutions.”
Mr Nicholson said he had hoped councillors would come and meet with park users before making the call.
“I’m dismayed they rejected it so quickly,” he said.
“No-one at the park was spoken to.”
Mr Nicholson said many dog walkers had expressed concern to each other about safety at the park after hours.
“A lot of ladies I’ve spoken to felt lighting would make them feel greatly safer,” he said.
“More than half of dog walkers are women.”
In rejecting the application, Cr Carol Ryan stated that there was a “misconception” that lighting made spaces safer.
“Some of the concerns of the petitions are about women and safety but lighting doesn’t actually promise it will be safer for women,” she said at the meeting.
“I also have to consider the rest of residents that live on the back of the reserve and some of the concerns with dogs barking.“
But Mr Nicholson said the park was large enough to face lighting away people’s backyards.
“I wouldn’t want light shining in my backyard either,” he said.
“But they could face lighting towards the oval.
“If there have already been complaints about noise since it opened around Christmas last year, maybe council put the park in the wrong place.”
Mr Nicholson said he was still hoping to work with council to suggest some additional changes to the park.
“Council has got it 99 percent right,“ he said.
“But I’m not sure where to go from here.“