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Tuross Head responds to Dog survey and proposed changes

Council is reviewing its Companion Animal Management Plan 2015-19, which details on and off-leash, timeshare and prohibited dog arrangements across Eurobodalla. As part of their Dog exercise area review they are holding drop-in sessions to garner community feedback. There was an excellent turn out by Tuross Head residents to the Drop In Information session that was held on Friday April 13th at Evans Park Reserve. Held between 12:30 and 2pm there was a continued steam of locals coming forward with their views. Representing Council were staff members Deb Lenson, Steve Picton, Nathan Ladmore and Mitchelle Stirling. With maps and survey forms they quickly came to appreciate that the Tuross Head community has very definite opinions on dogs, dog beaches and the proposed changes that Council have advised.

Vicki Smith of Tuross Head was one of the many who have lodged a submission. Vicki told The Beagle "Eurobodalla Shire Council markets itself as a destination for people with disabilities, the proposed new restrictions on areas to walk dogs are discriminatory.Elderly people & those with mobility & breathing disabilities cannot access any of the proposed areas, they have to walk a great distance (which they cant) over large stretches of sand or dunes." "The old boat ramp beach Tuross North, is easilly accessible, there are steps & its a short walk to the water.Surely, with all the beaches on the South Coast at least one beach in each area should be readily accessible to those with disabilities who want to enjoy the beach with their dogs. "It keeps people active & improves their health.I would like the Council to reconsider their proposed prohibition of dogs on the old Boat Ramp Beach (Tuross North)I will be taking this up with the relevant NSW Government disability advocate"

Above: Three of the Tuross Head community offer their opinions to The Beagle Weren't able to attend? You can still do the online survey and make a submission - all the details are HERE Below is the Tuross Head Progress Association SUBMISSION TO THE EUROBODALLA SHIRE COUNCIL’S REVIEW OF DOG OFF-LEASH EXERCISE AREAS AT TUROSS HEAD

This submission arises from a motion which was passed at the 5 Apr 18 meeting of the THPA concerning proposed changes to off-leash rules

Point 1 - GENERAL COMMENT ‘The proposal …… was brought forward in response to community interest’

1. The notice on the Eurobodalla Shire Council’s ‘Latest News” advises of several changes to dog exercise areas which ‘was brought forward in response to community interest’. This ‘community interest’ and source has not been clearly explained to the many dog owners who ratepayers in the Eurobodalla Shire.

2. Before these changes were proposed by the Council, the individuals or those bodies who represented ‘community interest’ should have been, and therefore should now be identified to the ratepayers so that we might be informed of the following points and questions.

(a) who these community members are?

(b) how their opinions were offered and accepted by the Council?

(c) the reason that their opinions were acted upon before a survey was extended to the other ratepayers of the community;

(d) whether these community interest individuals or bodies are ratepayers, employees of the ESC?

(e) does each of those whose opinions represented as ‘community interest’ live in every sector of the Eurobodalla Shire where these changes are to take place? (f) did anyone from the ESC make any effort to go and examine each of the areas where these changes to dog off-leash rules are to take place? 3. In short, is there any rationale behind these changes other than someone’s idea of ‘community interest’ and has any thorough research been done to evaluate the present arrangements of access and exercise areas. Or was it a case of ‘community interest’ being a terminology for someone’s effort in the ESC to take a pencil and reduce the areas of access without having any real idea of how ratepayers are using the areas designated for dogs and their owners. In summing up Point 1: If the changes to the dog exercise areas was in response to community interest one would expect that the community i.e. the whole of the Eurobodalla Shire residents would have been consulted before the proposed changes were announced – not after! ‘Under the recommendation, off-leash areas will double from 12 to 24, timeshare arrangements halved from 26 to 13, and prohibited areas increase from 16 to 22. Point 2 - COILA BEACH AREA

It is not clear what the ambiguous sentence means concerning the ‘New off-leash areas for the 12 areas mentioned in paragraph 5, but for Tuross and Coila (which have not been mentioned) the proposed maps of the off-leash areas have been reduced. As such further explanation on the part of Council to the Tuross Heads community needs to be provided in response to the THPA comments outlined below. a. Under the proposed changes the Coila Beach area will have the off-leash area reduced by about half of the area between the beach access steps and the commencement of the National Park area located some 100 hundred metres north. The access to the sand dunes and to Coila Lake to the west of the sandspit will now not be available for dogs off-leash. The rational being that this is now deemed to be a shorebird nesting area. b. It has been established that this is not a shorebird nesting area. Reports written several years ago were based on the opinions of amateur bird watchers and they were in relation to the nesting’s of the little terns on the sandspit on Tuross Lake – on the southern side of the Tuross Lake entrance. This was confirmed at the time by the TLPG. The sand dunes at Coila have never had nesting’s and the birds that inhabit the lake area at Coila Beach hang out on the rocks which are inaccessible to dogs. The area to the west of the dunes and south of the National Park is either covered in water during wet periods, or dry as a bone dry during drier seasonal periods. c. It was agreed by the TLPG at the last survey that dogs should be kept on a leash on the shared cycle/ walk pathways and Coila lakefront westwards from the wetlands (Please provide yourselves with a compass in order to know where north south east and west pointers are situated). In summing up Point 2, the shorebird area marked in red is incorrect and should be removed. Point 3 - ONE TREE BEACH NORTH and PLANTATION BEACH SOUTH 5. In respect to One Tree Beach North and Plantation Beach this is an area that is of serious importance to local dog owners at Tuross Head.

These beaches are rarely used by locals or visitors for swimming or beach fishing and the tourist period is limited to the period between Christmas and the end of Easter. These isolated beaches hidden away from public view from Tuross Boulevarde is considered by locals as being too dangerous for swimming activities, and historically these two beaches have always been utilised by dog-owners and their pets as off-leash precincts, frequented mainly early in the mornings and occasionally in the late afternoon. 6. There are two possible solutions to serve the interests of both local and visiting dog owners - and those unidentified community interest groups cited by Council who simply want to prohibit dogs on these two beaches. Those being: (a) Time share is a very effective instrument. The current arrangements of 24-hour access in the winter months i.e. April to November, and part time access from 5pm to 9am in the summer months (December to March) works well, or (b) One of either Plantation Beach or One Tree Beach North be proposed as an unrestricted 24-hour off-leash beach. Should this strong suggestion be accepted – the preference would be for Plantation Beach South to be declared a dog off-leash exercise area. 7. In summing up Point 3, given that dogs are already banned on One Tree Main Beach this latter THPA endorsed proposal is both fair and just, not only to the dog owners, but also to those who do not want dogs on the main use beaches Point 4 - LAVENDER BAY 8. The map of Lavender Bay does not indicate a boundary between the roadway and the beach. The banning of dogs on the beach gives those without dogs another dog-free area, therefore accompanied dogs on-leash should be allowed access to the lower road behind the beach area. 9. Responsible dog owners should be able to enjoy their recreational exercise walks in this area with their pets if their pets are under control on a leash. the winter months and almost all evenings these areas are free of visitors and vehicles. 10. In summing up Point 4, given that… Tuross is both a village with children with pets, as well as majority of elderly people, many of whom are aged and/or have lost a partner and therefore enjoy the company of their companion animal pets which improves their well-being, the ‘community interest’ mentioned in paragraph one, should take into account that probably half of the residents of Tuross/Coila have pets including dogs, and therefore the interests and needs of these sectors of the community deserve equal access to the local beaches and other recreational open areas as those who choose not to have dogs.

PROBLEM OF DOG FAECES IN PUBLIC AREAS 11. In relation to the matter of removing dog faeces, the residents of Tuross are fastidious about cleaning up after their dogs defecate. 12. That said, it has been the observation of many THPA dog owners who regularly exercise their dogs on the off-leash beaches or on the on-leash areas such as the shared cycle/walk, it is generally the visitors or tourists who let their dogs defecate without removing the mess and also allowing their dogs to run off-lead. When the matter is pointed out to the tourists they shrug their shoulders or say that they will remove the mess when they are on the return section of their walk. 13. Accordingly the Council rangers should be rostered to patrol all dog walking areas on the public holidays and especially during the school holidays to apprehend these people. The timing of patrols should coincide with popular dog walking times which generally is between 7.00 am and 10.00 am daily targeting compliance by both local and visiting dog owners who do not have their animals under control on a leash or fail to pick up dog faeces. If detected by regular dog walkers any local offenders are quickly reminded by their peers of the need to keep our shared pathways, beaches and surrounding environment clean and pristine for all to enjoy. NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY IN CONSULTATION 14. It would be interesting to know who was consulted about these proposed changes to dog off-leash sectors. Within Tuross Head the Tuross Head Progress Association with more than 150 members is the most appropriate representation of ‘community interest’ to be first consulted on this topic. 15. The Council’s proposed changes to Dog Off-Leash Beaches was debated at length at the 5 April 2018 THPA meeting. None of the members in attendance were initially aware of Council’s intentions in relation to this sensitive issue, and certainly no one had been approached by either the Council staff or any other local “community interest” group about the plans or indeed the need to further restrict the number of dog off-leash areas or beaches within Tuross Head. 16. Therefore a motion was moved for the Secretary THPA to make this representation to the Council. I trust that our comments will be noted and respected as being representative of the wishes of our community.

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