Dog-friendly options explored

Dog-friendly options explored

East Gippsland Shire Council will explore making a large portion of the region dog-friendly.

A petition from Helen Jaques at the Tuesday, August 7, regular monthly council requesting a dog-friendly beach declaration in Mallacoota was the catalyst for the move.

The petition contained 639 signatures and requested that ‘East Gippsland Shire Council have a dog-friendly (off-leash) beach – preferably Quarry Beach – accessible the whole year round.”

Ms Jaques’ petition read:
Most tourist towns have such an area and Mallacoota should now consider having the same. Tourists are actively encouraged to bring their dogs on holiday and the locals similarly have wanted an off the leash beach area for many years.

A doggie disposable station would need to be put at the beach as well, to encourage responsible dog ownership.

The development directorate will present a report recommending a proposed course of action in response to the petitioners’ request at the next council meeting, scheduled for September 4.

Cr Marianne Pelz questioned when reports would come back to council.

Director development, Paul Holton, said there were “a number of matters to do with dog off-leash areas”.

“Council staff are working on a proposal to bring back to council. A change to the way in which we manage dog off-lead and dog on-leash areas,” Mr Holton said.

“Currently, the whole municipality is declared a dog on-leash area with two exceptions under consideration, one in Bosworth Road in Bairnsdale and another in Palmers Road, Lakes Entrance.

“We intend to bring a report to the September meeting, seeking council’s approval to declare those two sites specifically, dog off-lead.

“Concurrent with that process, we will be preparing a report to come to council to declare the entire municipality dog off-lead, but identify specific areas within the municipality that will be dog on-lead.

“In order to do that we believe we will be required to do the best practice and consult the community. In the coming weeks we will establish a community reference group to float those ideas and then prepare a report to come back to council for consideration.

“It could take some time to get that final report so I’d imagine that within a 12-month period we may see the broader change introduced and that would create a better outcome overall on the basis that areas where it is important that dogs be restrained be identified, but other areas that are located outside of the municipal boundaries, people would be free to have their dogs off the lead should they choose to and where they would do no harm.

“So, we would see that broader change within 12 months, but the two dog off-leash areas, one in Lakes Entrance and one Bairnsdale, we will attempt to resolve as soon as possible.”
The recommendation was moved by Cr Pelz and seconded by Cr Dick Ellis.

Cr Pelz was thrilled to see the recommendation moved, believing the long-standing issue needed to be addressed.

“The dog off-leash issue is something that we’ve been asking for for quite some time so we thank the group from Mallacoota for their petition and we are pleased to be receiving it and see such support of 600 odd signatories,” Cr Pelz said.

“It’s just a reflection of what is coming through our community. People are coming here and staying - they’re elderly and now their children are their dogs basically and they really adore them and it’s great that we can actually accommodate them in a couple of dog off-leash areas for now.

“We are endeavouring to do the policy work and look into the background of what is required for having dog off-leash areas in our whole community. There’ll be things like dog on-leash areas in the streets in the main town centres.

“Basically, we will be looking at the opportunities that we can give to them. We will be looking forward to this report and hope that it comes through more sooner than later.”
Cr Ellis shared this sentiment.

“It is a matter that has been recognised by council for quite some time and officers, in cooperation with councillors, have been working to identify the best manner in which to meet the demands of the dog-off leash issue and subsequently I look forward to the final reports and actions coming back before council in due course”.
The motion was moved unanimously with all eight councilors in favour. Cr Jackson Roberts was absent.