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Presentation to Council meeting Feb 27th 2018 in regards to off-leash dogs on Long Beach

ITEM PSR18/003 SUBMISSION RESPONSE TO COMPANION ANIMAL MANAGEMENT PLANNING – EXERCISING OF DOGS ON LONG BEACH- DIANE BROOKS I have lodged submissions with Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) both personally and via Long Beach Community Association (LBCA) and today I represent the LBCA as a member of the executive. Further, I am also an invited stakeholder working with other community representatives on the Companion Animals Management Plan (CAMP) review and I am acutely aware of the issues impacting on the proposed trial of dogs off leash on Long Beach. Taking in to account the initial CAMP stakeholders meeting on December 18, 2017, the minutes from that meeting and the meeting held on 15 February, 2018, the summary of the public submissions to the draft Recreation and Open Space Strategy (ROSS) and the report to ESC PSR18/Companion Animals Management Plan I find it incomprehensible reading the staff recommendations to ESC councillors and strongly disagree with these recommendations to NOT proceed with the proposed trial for off leash area to the west of the toilet block at Long Beach. LBCA has already undertaken extensive consultation with its community since August 2017, targeting all 217 members and canvassing their opinions on a diverse variety of issues and options for dog off leash access in Long Beach as part of its written survey. The survey served as a broad, targeted and comprehensive consultation, far more extensive than ESC’s 28 day exhibition which comprised the ESC webpage, Facebook and a media release. It was an effective and targeted consultation because it sought the opinions of the residents potentially and directly impacted by any proposed change to current arrangement to dogs off leash at Long Beach. With a total of 60 responses to the LBCA survey, 36 residents advised they wanted changes to the current arrangements for walking dogs off leash to relax the restrictions on access to the beach during the October to April period. Only 4 residents said there should be no dogs on Long Beach while only 20 advised they were satisfied with current arrangements. Apparently, ESC staff have formed an opinion that dogs off leash on Long Beach has become diverse and perhaps inconsistent, again their opinion however any diverse opinion seems overwhelming related to two issues which may appear contrary but are, in fact, quite compatible. Issue 1. LBCA lodged a submission to ESC on 20 December, 2017 expressing its concerns and reservations that Councillor Nathan’s proposal was not consistent with LBCA membership position, however that we supported an alternative compromise option” which included a third “on leash buffer zone between the dog free and dog off leash area” with the option “introducing a very simple red, orange and green approach to signage and zoning”. I wish to emphasise that this option is in total agreement with the current recommendations to the CAMP around colour coded signage, a point initially proposed to ESC by LBCA through its membership submission. Issue 2. The motion put forward by Councillor Maureen Nathan on 14 November, 2017 proposing that “Council amend the CAMP so that: 1. Long Beach to the west of the toilet block be off leash for the purposes of exercising dogs. 2. Long Beach to the east of the toilet block be prohibited to dogs. Both options present the same premise, that responsible dog education, ownership and management is a priority, adequate and effective signage is essential and the majority of residents DO want a dogs off leash trial to occur on Long Beach. The only point of real diversity of opinion is the period of off leash exclusion during peak holiday periods of Christmas/New Year and Easter period and the starting location of the off leash zone, hardly a deal breaker for the trial. If ESC councillors are committed to a responsible and fair consultation process for both the CAMP and ROSS process, putting the Long Beach Dog off-leash to a trial process is an effective, calculable and progressive means of gathering objective rather than subjective data into the effectiveness of the proposal and adds informed opinion to the effectiveness and validity of the CAMP. While I am aware that ESC must apply a “whole of shire” approach to governance, trialling this proposal in Long Beach provides an invaluable opportunity to empower itself and its residents. The trial could be relatively cost neutral based on current environmental, social impact, financial and community and stakeholder engagement considerations as referred to in the staff report and remain largely unaltered due to the current availability of poo bags on site or easily relocated as required, current legislation is unchanged, the environment remains unchanged and the community and stakeholder engagement is already in existence. The process simply requires ESC councillors to take a proactive step to proceed with the trial. Submissions results from the ESC Recreation and Open Space Strategy (ROSS) review also overwhelmingly demonstrate strong community support for more dog off leash areas, of the 32 submissions reviewed, 23 submissions demonstrated strong support for changing time share arrangements during periods of heavy use of Eurobodalla beaches, while only 2 submissions were against relaxation of the existing arrangements. That should demonstrate to councillors and council staff that they are currently directly blocking fair community access to and usage of recreation and open space opportunities for residents, given that the current dog off -leash arrangements limits dog owners’ access to usage of their beach areas to 6 months of the year during the coldest periods of the year. Diane Brooks Treasurer, Long Beach Community Association 27 February, 2018

#Opinion #Council #LocalStateFederal

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