Mountains dog owners were left disappointed last week when councillors voted 7-3 against a six-month trial doubling the size of the current dog off-leash area at the former Lawson golf course.
A council report looking at the pros and cons of a trial - sought by Clr Geordie Williamson on behalf of the dog owners - found the "broader community" had not been consulted on the proposal and it was "preferable not to risk prejudicing the upcoming master planning process for the former golf course (by) assigning a particular user group use of 48 per cent of the site".
After debating the matter and hearing from several dog owners, councillors opted to support the report's recommendations to reject the expansion trial, to consider dog off-leash uses when the future of the site is being planned and to use council's proposed Citywide Strategy for the management of dogs in public places to review the most suitable sites for additional dog off-leash zones.
Lawson resident Lang Goodsell said the current arrangements are not user-friendly because the area is too small (2.6 hectares) and is on a sloped area, while the rest of the former golf course remains largely unused.
"It's almost like [we are] being confined to the foyer," she said.
"There is big social capital in being able to walk together and talk together.
"What we are asking is to be able to walk past that steep incline to the flatter areas."
Libby Sayers from Wentworth Falls agreed, claiming for council "to say that we can't use that area because we'll never move out is ridiculous".
"The dog off-leash plan might happen in year three [of the citywide dog strategy] but many dogs - and some of their owners - will be dead by then."
Clr Williamson said the decision to axe the trial was poor and upsetting.
"Their [dog owners'] request for a larger area seems very reasonable," he said.
"I will seek their input and try to find ways to bring these issues to council again."
Clr Romola Hollywood said she thought "we need to give the [dog-owning] community the benefit of the doubt".
Clrs Brendan Luchetti and Chris Van der Kley agreed with the report's findings.
Clr Van der Kley said a trial could be something council "could look at again later".
"For some reason dog off-leash areas became something with a great deal of passion in this community," he said.
"There has been a tremendous amount of people interested in that Lawson site.
"I really feel that [in regard to] doubling the size [of the dog off-leash area there] that we haven't had proper community consultation."