Frustration over outdated signage

The public open space in Stellenridge.

A Stellenridge resident wants outdated signage at the local park to be replaced to ensure that pet owners keep their dogs on a leash and clean up after them.

Richard Heydenrych, who stays across the park, has been trying to get the signs replaced since February.

After an encounter with a dog owner who simply refused to clean up after his dog messed in front of his gate, he emailed the City of Cape Town to get clarity on the by-laws.

Mr Heydenrych believes that proper signage would help to regulate activities in the park — so that it can be enjoyed by all.

“The park is across the road from where we stay. Lots of people walk their dogs here mostly without leashes and some neighbours are petrified of dogs and will not use amenities where dogs are running loose. This in its own has caused some problems before – with dogs getting into a tiff and an owner was bitten in the process,” he said.

And while Ward 112 councillor Taki Amira agrees that the signs need to be replaced, he said it had to go through the procurement process.

“When an additional R150 000 was made available to the ward allocations, I immediately made funding available to assist City Parks in procuring updated signs, in particular for this public open space. This is being documented and will reflect in the January adjustments budget. As these sign-boards are site-specific, they need to be sourced subject to available budget.

“That is why I have made funds available, to be approved, for the procurement of signs,” he said.

But, Mr Heydenrych feels that the matter is being unduly delayed by people who are shifting responsibility from one person to another.

He said three officials visited the park on April 19 to take pictures and agreed that signboards needed to be erected as the one sign that is left is illegible and placed where not many people can see it.

“On May 8 I followed up again. On May 26, after no action, I followed up again. On June 19, still no response,” he said.

Mr Heydenrych said he sent numerous emails since February and by July 17 he received an email from a City parks official to say it had not been approved yet. He believes the signs would be a benefit for everyone who uses or would like to use the park.

Mr Amira said he accompanied City officials on a site visit on Friday July 7 where they had discussed the signage.

“The Parks and Recreation Department recommended four signs but need to wait for approval of my additional funding as the signs fall under capital expenditure. I have asked them to get them up as soon as they are procured and adjust other projects with my funding,” he said.

Mr Amira said public parks and open spaces were there for everyone to use, however, the City, as with any organisation, relies on the users of the park to show responsibility and maturity in using these facilities.

“In most areas in the city, the same problem exists and in many of these areas residents have taken the initiative in addressing the problem.

“They have set up groups know as Friends groups who then take responsibility for educating dog walkers and other users to pick up their mess.

“It cannot be an expectation that Law Enforcement enforce this aspect — they do not have the manpower. Protocol must be followed in that a complaint should be lodged and an affidavit submitted with evidence. The complainant should then be prepared to appear in court to substantiate the complaint should the need arise,” he said.

Mr Amira said residents can file a report with supporting evidence in the form of a sworn statement and/or photographs against dog owners not picking up after their dogs.