Who kicked the dogs out?

Mount Maunganui Dog Club’s Dave Swinyard and Shelley Stewart at the Links Ave Reserve, which they will have to move from come June 2024. Photo: John Borren.

They’ve been training spritely dogs at Links Avenue Reserve for more than 30 years.

Now they will have to shift from their green space to make way for developments of a concrete carpark.

For Mount Manganui Dog Club it’s perhaps not the impending loss of their club’s grounds that’s most upsetting, but the loss of trust they have with Tauranga City Council through the project’s dealings.

Dave Swinyard of the club, and flygility coordinator, says they will have to shift from the reserve next June when construction for a carpark – as part of Links Ave’s new football facility – begins.

A club assured

“They [TCC] assured us that the club would not be disadvantaged and that there was money within the project for the Links Avenue Reserve that would not only cover the club’s relocation, but that we would get improved facilities,” says Dave.

However, Dave says this agenda is no longer being followed. “It now seems that allocated funds are no longer available, whether through mismanagement or poor planning, is not clear. There’s a bit of lost trust there with the way things have been going.”

The Weekend Sun reached out to TCC to see what has happened to the promised funds to support the club’s relocation?

“In the initial stages of the Links Ave development project, we proactively engaged with the Mount Dog Club, and are currently providing support towards finding the club a new home,” says TCC spaces and places manager Alison Law.

“Through these discussions, there was never a predetermined or set amount of funding earmarked specifically for the relocation,” says Alison.

Wrong reserve

Dave says council proposes that the dog club relocates to Soper Reserve temporarily – yet he says this green space does not meet the club’s needs.

“There’s no storage, there’s no lighting…we operate in the evenings. [Council] said they would look at the cost of lighting but again, this is one of the areas where they said that maybe we’d like to fundraise to cover the costs.”

Soper Reserve also has limited parking and is unfenced, says Dave.

“Many of the dogs that we deal with are young and you train off lead because that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Especially as it’s right next to a railway line as well. If a train comes past it’s going to spook the dogs, and they’re going to run.”

The club has suggested multiple green spaces to council that would be more suitable – all have been denied.

Dave says a space at Gordan Spratt Reserve would best meet the needs of the club in the interim, however council won’t permit this.

“Unfortunately, Gordon Spratt Reserve is already near capacity, with numerous clubs and codes operating from the reserve,” says Alison.

“The reserve is also being upgraded with construction work either currently underway or set to begin early in the New Year, so any additional activity on the reserve would impact its current users.”

Lack of greens

“The problem is that there aren’t enough green spaces in the area to move us to, and ironically they’re changing our green space into a carpark,” says Dave.

“At the first meeting we had with council, they said that we would not be disadvantaged. With what they are proposing at present, we will be disadvantaged.”

Alison says the council is committed to working through potential challenges and opportunities with the club to ensure their needs are met now and in future.

“Part of this commitment includes covering reasonable relocation costs to meet their core requirements for ongoing operation.” 

Alison says this commitment would include “covering the cost of installing lighting and storage as required to meet the club’s requirements”.

With the future location for the club still uncertain, Dave hopes the club can continue to operate.

“We do a lot of work for the community and it would be a great loss to the community were the club to have to curtail its activities,” says Dave.

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