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HomeLatest NewsPay per poo: proposal to look into user-pays doggy-do bags at Northern...

Pay per poo: proposal to look into user-pays doggy-do bags at Northern Beaches parks

Updated: Independent Councillor Vincent De Luca has lost his motion for Northern Beaches Council to investigate installing coin-operated or tap-and-pay dog poo bag vending machines at off-leash dog parks.

The proposal was debated on Tuesday at the monthly council meeting and ended in a tie vote which was broken by Mayor Sue Heins casting her mayoral vote against the motion.

Councillors Gencher, Page, Ryburn, De Luca, Sprott, Crvelin and Menano-Pires all voted in favour of the motion.   But in the end, the motion came up short as Mayor Heins believed if a pay system were to be introduced there would be too many people influenced to do the wrong thing.

“I agree that we need innovation but I don’t think that this is the right type of innovation.

“We know that human nature sadly doesn’t always do the right thing and it would probably be easier to ignore the little land mines that are left everywhere and see them continue to grow, which is not what we really want to see in the long run,” Mayor Heins said.

Cr De Luca put forward the motion when he discovered Council was under no legal obligation to provide the bags, and yet demand continued for the excrement bags to be available in more locations, – a cost prohibitive option, he said, given the high cost to provide them.

Previously: Published Tuesday 25 February 

“A lot of residents have come to me with concerns that there aren’t actual poo bags available at all dog walking areas and parks and reserves, and there is an expectation by local residents that they’d be provided.”

Councillor Vincent De Luca, Independent for the Northern Beaches

The Council currently budgets $100,000 annually to provide the public with 96 bag dispensers in various off-leash dog parks and tracks across the beaches.

“The more reasonable people saw that that’s an excessive cost. And they actually said, well, you know, they’d rather pay a small fee to get their bags at places where they’re walking their dogs than not having them at all,” he said.

However,  when we headed down to one of the local dog parks recently, many resoundingly poo pooed the idea.

Linda and her schnauzer Jedda who were taking a stroll around Long Reef Dog Park said the free bags should stay that way.

“My attitude is I’d prefer to have the poo bags there [for] if people forget them… we all pay enough taxes.”

Justine with her dog Bailey and Ally with her dog Duke had a similar agreement.

“If you need a bag and don’t have any money available it’s difficult to pick up your dog’s poo,” Justine said.

“I think people pay enough in their rates where bags should be subsidised, but I do see the other argument too that some people do come and abuse the free bags, I’ve seen people come and take 20-30 bags at once,” Ally added.

Billy, Ally, Justine and Duke take a candid pose

Simon and his pup Oreo  – who just recently used the dispenser service moments before –  are fully in favour of keeping bags free.

“I would suggest that the benefits outweigh the cost.”

Simon’s pup Oreo who was almost too quick to catch on camera

Cr De Luca explained the Council spends over $3.8 million a year just servicing bins in parks and reserves across the Northern Beaches area (some of which hold their fair share of animal waste.)

He further argued that they were under no legal obligation to provide public dog poo bag dispensers and that the money saved from providing pay-to-use machines could be used for other dog owner services.

“We have various requests regarding the Animal Companion Act, one of which is to have Council run walking programs, training programs for responsible dog ownership and also, there is the continual push to have new parts off leash as well as dog swimming areas, so any money that can go into that I think it’s a good thing.”

The Council has reportedly been told to cut their budget, he added.

Cr De Luca proposed motion aimed to assist with this expectation by liaising with Universities, businesses and innovative minds from the general public to develop this automated technology, which would be an Australian first.

Linda and Jedda at Long Reef Dog Park

Cr De Luca was unable to elaborate on how much the poo bags would cost dog walkers nor how much money the machines would save until they have the technology.

The councillor told Manly Observer there would be a trial run for the service if the council votes to proceed, but believes regardless of pay for poo bags or not, there will always be people doing the wrong thing.

“There’s complaints each week that these bags are right there in some places, and people won’t walk five metres…to actually get bags that are free.

“So it doesn’t matter what you put in place, there will always be those people who are negligent and will allow their dogs sadly, to defecate anywhere they want.”

The motion will be debated tonight. You can read the wording of the motion in full on page 83 of tonight’s agenda, available to read here.