An email has been circulating wherein Georlene Wolmarans, the Mayor of Knysna, is obviously backpedaling on the proposed Pit Bull terrier clauses in the upcoming ‘By-Law Relating to the Keeping of Dogs’. It’s a victory for public participation.
If you’re new to the topic, then please check out my blog that introduced the matter.
To be fair, she wasn’t behind the draconian changes. The Governance & Planning Committee erred from common sense when they unanimously recommended them for approval to the Mayoral Committee. That there had been so little public participation was not an excuse for the absence of common sense.
Laws are definitely needed. For example, a child can’t be savaged and then the debate happen thereafter. Likewise, good dogs and good owners can’t be victimised whilst there seems to be no plan in place to tackle the real problem areas such as dog fighting. Before all of that there needs to be an understanding of different breeds of dogs and what danger, if any, is posed. What there shouldn’t have been was the intention to ban pit bulls from public spaces.
Wolmarans did well when she said that, “It is to be welcomed that so many of our residents have expressed their views in the media on the issue of proposals to include special controls on Pit Bull dogs in Knysna’s by-law on the Keeping of Dogs. This demonstrates the value of living in a democratic country where everyone’s views can and must be heard.”
You, the public, did very well! That was one of the quickest responses i’ve witnessed in years. My blog was viewed 8000 times as a result of over 1000 FB shares. Someone made a YouTube video in protest and another set up a poll which gained over 1000 protestors within 3 days. The Knysna Municipality got flooded with objections. YOU WERE HEARD!
Wolmarans faulted when she tried to lessen the gravity of the situation, referring to “massive misunderstanding and sensationalism.” The fact is that my blog was quite simple and commentators were sane. If there was any controversy it’s that some stuck up for the Municipality elsewhere on the net by saying that i had lied (an underhanded act since it was so easily check-able).
Wolmarans also complained that the public hadn’t responded sufficiently to calls for participation. True. That is, unfortunately, a reality on most topics in Knysna, especially those involving human beings. However, it should also be pointed out to Mayor Wolmarans that if she had made this website one of the places where the Municipality advertised, they would get a bigger response. I would even charge her considerably less than the newspapers so that a pothole or two got fixed instead:)
The changes to the by-law must still reach the Mayoral Committee but she has indicated that it won’t be passed onto the Council meeting to become law. Instead, most likely, as requested, it will be sent back to the Section 80 Governance and Planning Committee where we can expect them, in turn, to send it back to the drawing board, this time for well-rounded discussion.
With regards most decisions made for us in Knysna, not only laws, i cannot emphasise enough to you how important it is to have the issues addressed at the Section 80 level as most matters that pass through there get passed by Council.
Again, well done to you all! It wasn’t that long ago that we got rid of that racist from the Knysna Ratepayers Association and Ward 10 Committee. Now you’ve stood up for your dogs. Soon you’ll read about your attention keeping the story about American Mike’s death alive and that it has led to his identification and his family overseas being notified – such a comfort that is. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Please keep doing so!