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2 June - Exchange Discussion Summary

  • 2 Jun 2021 14:25
    Message # 10582308
    Facilitator LGMA (Administrator)

    Compliance Exchange – 11:30am, 2 June 2021

    Around the Grounds

    North Burnett

    • Regulated dogs, dog attacks and destroy orders for dangerous dogs
    • People living unlawful buildings (caravans, sheds etc.) or building on land without the proper permits

    Fraser Coast

    • Canter Leaver Awning maintenance and potential for public safety issues if awnings that have fallen into disrepair collapse and injure a member of the public. The last recorded death due to an awning collapse was in 2008. Balancing the responsibilities that council has for public safety especially when the awnings are over footpaths, and the responsibility of the building owners to properly maintain or restore the awnings especially when the buildings are heritage listed, like many in Maryborough.  
    • Community Rangers – biggest challenge right now is attracting and keeping staff, as well as dogs that have been seized. A recent case indicated that there is more experience required before handling an issue relating to the seizure of a problem animal. Currently seeking advice from solicitors and gathering more information.  

    Burdekin

    • Dogs off leads. Rangers have been blitzing a certain area for 2 hours at a time. All Rangers join forces with one ranger in an unmarked vehicle to support the other rangers on foot. This has led to a reduction in the number of dog attack incidences but further education of dog owners is required.
    • Major issues being delt with at the moment has been the seizure of 60 Roosters from a property. The owner has been very helpful. The challenge is finding a place to store the animals for a two week period before they can be destroyed.
    • New Local Law gazetted for building maintenance, specifically in relation to commercial buildings where owners must work with council to ensure the façade of the building is upgraded and maintained. Mackay and Townsville have also just passed a similar local law.

    Topics for discussion today

    Dogs

    • North Burnett - Recently seized a couple of dogs under warrant and had them in custody. Issued a destruction order but the dogs were then stolen from the pound. Have sought legal advice and it will be interesting to see what the law says as to whether the animal will be able to be destroyed immediately if it is discovered again, or if the process to issue the destruction order will need to start again.
    • Burdekin – haven't done a destruction at the proposal stage.
    • Fraser Coast – amount of dog attacks have increased and it is becoming a huge concern. What do we do? Dogs off lead is an issue. We don’t have enough officers to patrol. Officers can be dealing with up to 4-5 dog attacks. Especially in Hervey Bay. What are the Policies and Procedures that other councils have in place to address this issue?.
    • Burdekin - Do you prosecute for dog attacks? Perhaps if people know there is a penalty they will be more likely to self regulate. We have a lot of pig hunting in NQ so they see the dogs as a commodity not a pet and keep them hungry. The key question is to figure out how to stop the attack in the first place? Most of the processes deal with the after effects of the attack.
    • North Burnett – We issue PINS as well as seize the animal. Separate offense = issue separate PINS.
    • Fraser Coast – If they surrender the dog then all the charges are dropped. People that move from NSW and VIC pay a one off registration fee so to get them to register their animal each year when they move to Qld can be an issue. We also have compulsory desexing in Qld. People don’t think their dog is capable of attack, or know that their dog is dangerous but let them off the lead anyway. Education and training for dog owners is required.
    • Fraser Coast – lack of resources and the increase in workload has meant that we are reactive. Had to cancel the approved inspection programme due to lack of officers.
    • North Burnett – When we rolled out our Approved Inspection Programme, we had limited resources too so we focused on the hotspots and the word got around town and we had a 20% increase in registrations.

    Awnings and building maintenance

    • Fraser Coast - Canter lever awnings are difficult to inspect and hard to assess the level of decay. We’ve done research on the Work safe website and got access to the legal advice that Sunshine Coast Council obtained from King & Company on how to approach this issue. The latest awning death was 2008. Most of the awnings are on heritage listed on commercial buildings. Awnings had posts but were replaced in 1990s with the canter lever awnings. Where you have old buildings the funds aren’t available from the owners to fix and then this could become a political issue.
      What are other councils doing about this issue? In particular, has anyone set up a maintenance programme, with a three levels of response type approach where Level 1 = Emergency and Level 2 and 3 require certain levels of upkeep and maintenance.
    • Burdekin – looking more at the visual rather than maintenance. One example in particular brought this to a head and was the reason for the Gazette change to local laws. We have a derelict building that backs onto a rest stop area that is in high levels of use by the public so the impetuous to get it fixed was there. We had to identify areas to apply the new law. It only applies to commercial buildings not residential.
    • Mackay and Townsville have enacted a similar law recently  – Kerry, Coordinator of Corporate Governance at Mackay said they introduced a 50/50 spilt between the building owners and council to pay for the maintenance. The Building Act could help too – owners responsibility for the building upkeep but the council responsibility to enforce the public safety issue. Another suggestion was budgeting an incentive programme to get the buildings updated without going down the compliance route. Taking the enforcement route can often find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
    • North Burnett – We don’t have the types of buildings that Maryborough has and we put the onus on the owners to maintain the property. There is also a council street scape programme that partners with building owners to ensure the upkeep and maintenance.

    Lack of housing and affordable rental properties, unlawful buildings

    • Fraser Coast – Issue of people not having affordable housing options or budget accommodation for people down on their luck. With affordability they will take whatever accommodation they can. The issue has become so prevalent that we have pulled together a meeting group involving the Department of Housing and the local Police to address each issue.
    • North Burnett - There is a larger housing affordability issue and pressures of people moving into the wide bay area. Homeless people or low income – buy a small town parcel of land for $3,000 and then live in a caravan with no services connected. Often in historical areas offered as cheap affordable land. Older people living in an isolated places and building a shed and putting a caravan next to it without proper approvals or the money to get proper approvals. It has always been around but there is an increasing incidence in recent years, the displacement of people since the Covid lockdown has definitely made the issue worse. Council had developed a low or no cost note. Enforcement work is also in place and council took a couple to court with some successes.
    • Burdekin – Not so aware of the homeless issue. Rental market is tight and has been since half way through Covid lockdown. Our struggle is to find places to accommodate workers for the ag economy to do the picking, cane cutting etc. We have 700 jobs but only 300 people.
    • The consensus is that Covid was the catalyst for people moving and making do with what they have and either not understanding what is required or not having the financial means to do right thing.

    Next Exchange - 6 October 11:30am


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