About the issue

We have heard from some community members that the John August Reserve off-lead area for dogs could be safer. Some dog owners are concerned that dogs can run out onto the nearby Mont Albert Road.

What we found out

We assessed the conditions, use and history of John August Reserve to understand how we could help make this area safer for dogs and other park users.

We did not find any reported incidents of dogs running from the park onto the road.

We did find some challenges with this site, including the existing topography of the park. This is sloped in parts, which means there is less flat area for people to use and most of the activity happens in the middle of the park where the ground is flat.

We also found that most of the park is enclosed by residential fencing, along with chicane fencing at the Weir Street entry near the playground and a narrow laneway to Balwyn Library. The reserve would become fully enclosed if we installed continuous fencing and a gate to the park boundary near Mont Albert Road.

There are possible negative effects that could happen if we fully enclose the reserve, based on our research into other fully enclosed dog parks. For example:

  • More people may travel to the park from outside the area, which would add pressure between different park users in the shared space.
  • Fully fenced reserves are likely to attract professional dog walkers.
  • Full enclosure of a space can lead to some owners being less attentive to their dogs and the dogs not being under effective voice or hand control.

To ensure the enjoyment of all park users, owners must have effective voice or hand control of their dogs. There have been 2 dog incidents in the past 2 years at John August Reserve and we would not want to increase the chances of this number growing.

Based on our assessment of these possible negative effects and the site’s challenges, we aren’t able to install enclosed fencing at this location.

Our proposed design

We want to improve the safety of the off-lead area for dogs, while still balancing the needs and enjoyment of all park users. This includes children who use the playground, families, dog owners and passive recreational users, such as people having a picnic. We have looked at different options and received advice from an expert consultant that specialises in dog behaviour in public spaces.

Our proposed design aims to:

  • slow down and stop dogs from running onto the nearby Mont Albert Road
  • refresh and improve the look of the entrance through greenery and new plantings
  • balance the open space enjoyment in this reserve
  • make the park safer for everyone.

Our proposed design includes improvements to the reserve side of the southern entrance at Mont Albert Road:

  • Replace the current maintenance vehicle entry gate with a new chain mesh gate. This would help reduce the open area to stop dogs running.
  • A new chicane entry for people to enter and leave the reserve. This would help reduce the open area to stop children and dogs running.
  • New garden bed planting with rocks, logs and hoop fencing to act as a barrier between the park and road. This is also a way to slow dogs down, as they stop and sniff the different plants and smells.
  • Improvements to the pavement to meet the needs of pedestrians and maintenance vehicles.

Responsible pet ownership is required in all public areas at all times for everyone’s safety. To make sure this is clear:

  • We will look to improve our standard signage at the northern end of the reserve near the playground. This will tell park users what they need to do if they bring dogs to the shared off-lead space.
  • Officers may also monitor the area more to educate dog owners about responsible pet ownership.

Southern entrance improvements

All design elements shown are subject to a final budget review, authority approvals and site conditions.

Select the hotspots in the maps below to view proposed improvements to the southern entrance of John August Reserve. Images used are examples only.

Overview map

A map of John August Reserve showing changes to the southern entrance

Detailed map

A map of the southern entrance of John August Reserve

Artist's impression of the proposed improvements

Artist's impression of the proposed improvements at John August Reserve

Have your say

We want to know if you support this set of proposed improvements to John August Reserve. Tell us what you see as the advantages and/or disadvantages of the proposed upgrades.

You can have your say in our survey below. The survey is open until midnight on Sunday 18 December 2022.

Your feedback will decide whether we go ahead with the proposed improvements at John August Reserve. If there is broad community support for the proposed improvements, we will develop a final design based on the feedback received during community consultation.