When I arrived 2007 in Cape Town (yeah. I am another expatriate living in Cape Town ;-)) I was told that De Waal Park is THE dog park in the city.
As I brought my beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback from Europe with me I visited the park and found a sh**…. lets put it this way: The park was not well maintained. And there was a lot of crime going on, lots of homeless people and no one would visit the park in the evening. No a save place at all.
Later in 2007 the dog owners who visited the park frequently had enough. There was no help in sight from the city officials and so they started to make a plan on how to improved the quality to the park.
The Friends of De Waal Park where founded and with this a real success story and a very good example on how taking over ownership of a public area can be a big success for all members of society.
The dog owners privately funded dog bags and asked fellow dog owners to pick up poo after their dogs (It´s the law anyway and in Europe you pay high fines for not doing it). This public pressure helped a lot in making the place cleaner. People for the Straatwerk organisation where organised to come weekly to clean the fountain and clean the park. A way to get unemployed people into work.
A annual park calendar was launched and is nowadays the biggest source of income for the Friends of De Waal Park. With this money the toilet block was
restored and reopened. A person was hired to maintain the toilet block. Bergies were placed in shelters or helped with way to integrate them into society.
The annual carols by candlelight attracted more than 300 people last year and it seems that the De Waal Park will be compete against Kirstenbosch next year when it comes to this event 😉
Slowly the work showed results and now in 2011 the park is a real beauty and a place that has become again what he was planned for: A quite and tranquil place for Capetownians. The park is not used only by dog owners, but on a sunny afternoon you will find nowhere in Cape Town so many happy dogs as in De Waal Park.
This year the Friends of De Waal Park will start a series of Open Air concerts in the park. On Sept. 4 at 14.00 the new Jungle Gym on the restored children’s playground will be officially opened and Cape Towns mayor might be there as well.
So what can I say. I visit the park 2 times a day and the people there have become a part of my family.
And now go and explore the De Waal Park for yourself, your partner, kids, dogs and friends – BUT please pick up after your dog, do not litter and enjoy the park 😉