I’m a firm believer in giving back to the community. And I don’t just mean the book reading and writing community although I love doing that. For instance I like to support my local library, giving my time for free to give talks and encourage reading for all ages.
I also mean the community I live in. In September 2020 I helped found a group of 2000 dog owners, Callan Park Dog Lovers (CPDL), of which I am now the director. We formed the group because we wanted clarity from the NSW Govt. (Australia) regarding the on- and off-leash status of a Sydney park called Callan Park.
For the last 14 years I have walked in this beautiful historic park and when I got my first dog, Pickles, he and I would walk together every day, enjoying the beautiful trees, the wildlife and the heritage buildings. You might say that Callan Park is my passion.
Over an 18 month period the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust, who manages Callan Park amongst other Sydney parks, initiated a community consultation process about dogs in Callan Park. This resulted in the Companion Animals Management Plan. In this plan there are now 20 hectares of off-leash space, making it one of the largest off-leash parks in Sydney. It is a good outcome for everyone, not just dog owners, with 41 hectares of the park on-leash. CPDL’s approach has always been that the park is large enough to cater for the needs of all park users.
I believe this is a shining example of what can be achieved by Government and community working together to find solutions. It also reflects the transparency and good-will that underpinned the planning process.