Mid-Levels dog park proposal splits residents

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am

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Mid-Levels residents are split over a plan to allow dogs into part of a public park.

Many pet owners and some district council members want to open part of Caine Road Garden to dogs. The plan has been put to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

'Our proposal is to achieve separate recreational areas for people and dogs,' Central and Western district community relations officer Kathy Siu Ka-yi said.

'Now, dogs can only run around in the street. It would be much better if they had a place to gather.'

Yesterday, about 15 dog owners rallied to support the proposal at the park, which Siu estimated to be about 4,000 square metres.

'There isn't one park in this area that allows dogs,' Caine Road resident Vienna Lau Wai-yan, who has two large dogs, said. 'I can only walk my dogs in the narrow streets with buses passing by which pose a danger to my dogs.'

The closest pet parks are Victoria Peak Garden and the Central and Western District Promenade.

'They're too far away for Mid-Levels residents,' said Siu, who lives near Caine Road and owns a dog. However, not all residents are happy with the plan for the Caine Road park.

'Many children use the playground here and some smaller ones crawl on the ground,' retiree May Li, who was strolling in the garden yesterday, said. 'Allowing dogs in here would cause a hygiene problem.

'Old people like my 91-year-old mother exercise here every day. People use the sitting-out area, too. Which would you say is more important, people or dogs?'

Another resident, Mike Mulvaney, also opposed the plan. 'My children don't really go up to the area, but I wouldn't want to have to bother with dogs being here,' the American expatriate said as he took his baby daughter for a walk.

But Siu said the concerns of residents would be addressed. She said the Architectural Services Department had confirmed the feasibility of having a second entrance for the park and keeping the proposed dog area separate from the rest of the garden.

In his 2010-11 policy address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the government would identify suitable sites for new pet parks.

A motion on 'formulating an animal-friendly policy' was passed in the Legislative Council last November, which included 'identifying sites in all districts in Hong Kong for constructing more parks for pets'.

Siu said districts such as Sham Shui Po, Kwun Tong and Eastern still did not have dog parks.

The campaign was supported by a number of animal rights groups.

'We're not asking to take over other people's areas, we only hope that we could use spaces seldom used by people,' said Gloria Li Suk-fun, chairwoman of STOP! Save HK's Cats and Dogs. 'We understand there are people who don't like dogs. So why not designate specific places for dogs, instead of having dogs and people fighting for space on roads?'