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Dog Plan adopted to come into play next May

The Tuesday October 23rd Ordinary Council meeting saw Councillors adopt the draft Companion Animal Management Plan 2018 following consideration received during the public exhibition period. The draft Plan had been on public exhibition and submissions had been considered in finalising the draft Plan. Though it wont become effective until May the Plan was adopted with only a small variation to the recommendations. The only change to the Plan came via a collective appeal by residents of Rosedale and supporters to overturn Councils decision to have Boatshed Beach identified as Dogs Prohibited and allow that section to be the given the same restrictions as the rest of Rosedale Beach.

Above: The newly adopted change for Rosedale sees Boatshed Beach as the same as the rest of Rosedale Beach

Council also adopted a budget of $20,000 be allocated for signage and a budget of $30,000 be allocated that will support the employment of a Thursday to Sunday ranger to assist in education of the community and oversee compliance for improving responsible pet ownership. With the exception of the above variation you can see your own area maps HERE

Above; Some of the speakers at Council's meeting presenting on the Companion Animal Management Plan - you can read some of the presentations below

Andrew Hopkins and Heather McGregor presented the following to Council during Public Forum

We sympathise with need to balance interests of dog owners and other beach users. We own a dog. But we are also grandparents and we regularly take grandchildren to Boatshed beach at North Rosedale during school holidays. We resent having dogs off leash approach us at these times, because they often frighten our grandchildren. For this reason, we support the exclusion of dogs from this beach at times when children are likely to be playing.

The second draft of CAMP is an improvement on the first, but it ignores concerns expressed in the great majority of submissions from Rosedale residents. In particular

1. The prohibition of dogs on Boatshed Beach at any time will prevent dog-walkers accessing the area where dogs are explicitly allowed - North Rosedale beach. This is nonsensical. Council staff have ignored requests to consider options whereby leashed dogs are allowed to transit prohibited areas.

2. Outside holiday periods, dog-walkers are often the sole users of Rosedale Beach. Banning these few beach-goers would needlessly leave the Beach completely deserted during the day for several months each year. Council staff have ignored requests to explore more sensible periods for time-share, e.g. 'during NSW school holidays' in place of '1 November to 30 April'.

The ESC staff comment is that our submissions expressed “mixed views on arrangement for Rosedale Beach”. This is not an accurate statement. The submissions overwhelmingly opposed the blanket prohibition of dogs on Boatshed Beach. Indeed, based on the reported comments, no one explicitly argued for this prohibition, or even supported it. Most submissions urged that Boatshed Beach be subject to the same time-share arrangements as the rest of Rosedale Beach. This would mean dogs not allowed between 9am and 5pm on time-share days. This provides ample time for beachgoers who do not wish to interact with dogs.

Moreover, the great majority of submissions urged the adoption of time-share arrangements that were more sensitive to the actual usage of the beach throughout the year, that is, aligned to school holiday periods.

The ESC staff comment does not respond to these proposals. It provides no justification for imposing arrangements that are contrary to the wishes of the great majority of residents.

We therefore request that Council defer a decision on this matter until our concerns have been adequately addressed.

If Council is committed to finalising the matter at this meeting, we urge it to amend the draft as follows:

  1. Boatshed Beach is to be subject to the same time-share arrangements as the rest of Rosedale Beach.

  2. The time-share period is to be restricted to school holidays. At other times there will be no restrictions on dogs.

Kaye Watkins from Guerilla Bay presented the following: I thank the council for the opportunity to speak today. I asked for this opportunity because I feel strongly that the Companion Animal Management Plan should not be adopted in its current form. My comments will be specifically in relation to Guerilla Bay and Rosedale although I believe they apply to other areas as well. This plan contains proposals that are incredibly restrictive in terms of dog access to beaches and yet there has never been a ‘business case’ provided to support these restrictions. I wasn’t sure if it was a public safety issue so I tried to find information on dog attacks. The Office of Local Government publishes a quarterly list of dog attacks for each local government area. The last quarter published was for April - June, 2018. There were three attacks in Eurobodalla in that quarter. I looked at the last 12 reports. The previous quarter had an alarming 18 but this appears to be an exception as the following eight reports contain the entry ‘No attacks reported’ and the following two recorded 2 attacks. In the 3 year period there were no serious injuries but 10 minor injuries were recorded. These statistics are for the entire Eurobodalla Shire and are not specific to beaches. Although I note that there was an attack in Oct last year on Long Beach. The average number of attacks is 2 per quarter and of course it would be better if this number was zero. If this plan is a response to the danger presented by dogs on beaches then it is an extreme response to a low risk issue. Restricting dogs on beaches is unlikely to have any significant impact on the number of attacks. An education campaign improving dog owner responsibility would be much more likely to reduce the number. If the plan is a response to arguments that dogs adversely impact on the biodiversity of the beach environment. The reality is that the beaches of Guerilla Bay and Rosedale are not fragile ecosystems. They are not breeding sites for rare or endangered birds or animals. There is nothing that dogs can do to these beaches that can compare to what nature can do to them. If this plan was driven by a need to review existing arrangements - then okay. But then this became not okay when the draft plan was amended, supposedly in response to the feedback the council received. But in the case of Guerilla Bay and Rosedale the amended proposal had little or no relationship to the feedback received from those communities. For example, the main Guerilla Bay beach was originally a green ‘Off-leash: Dogs allowed at all times’ beach but the Stoney Beach was red ‘Dogs Prohibited’. Yet the information the council provided on the 70 responses it received showed there were only 7 submissions in favour of ‘increased restrictions on dogs’ (10%). The clear majority wanted reduced restrictions and this of course was relation to the prohibition of dogs on the Stoney beach. It is inexplicable, therefore, that the Council kept the Stoney beach as ‘Prohibited’ and increased restrictions on the Main Beach to a Timeshare zone. These restrictions are absurd. I have been monitoring both Guerilla Bay beaches between 9am and 5pm over the last 4 to 5 days. On 29 occassions (at approximately hourly intervals) I checked how many people were on these beaches. I have 112 photos that I am happy to share with anyone that wants to verify of the following information.On 20 of the 29 times there was no one on the main beach. On 17 of the 29 times there was no one on the Stoney beach. The total number of people I saw over the 29 visits on the main beach was 40 making the average number of people on the main beach 1.4 and this is a beach that is approximately 370m long. The total number of people I saw on the Stoney beach was 32 making the average number of people on the Stoney beach 1.1 and this beach is approximately 120m long. We are 9 days away from the proposed Timeshare period. And there will be no appreciable change in these numbers until the summer, or public holidays or school holidays. What sense is there in a proposal to prohibit dogs from virtually deserted beaches? I don’t own a dog but my 93 year old mother is a frequent visitor. She loves to take her dog for a walk along the bush track in front of the houses on Beach Parade to the Stoney beach. This beach is far easier for her to accessed than the main beach. But if you prohibit dogs from this beach the alternative will be a much more difficult and dangerous trip to the main beach. And not only will it more difficult and dangerous, for six months of the year, it must be done before 9am or after 5pm. When you, as counsellors, make a decision on this plan it may have little or no affect on your daily lives. But this decision has the potential to have a hugely negative impact on the enjoyment of many people living in, or visiting, the area. Generally people are prepared to accomodate change if it is for the common good. But it is very difficult to accomodate change when there is no reason for it. If these restrictions are because a handful of submissions indicated a preference ‘to not interact with dogs on beaches’. The proposals in this plan give them literally thousands of hours of dog-free beach time including the best, most convenient hours of the day for 6 months of the year. I wonder how often the dog-free advocates will even be on the beaches during these times. In recommending adopting the proposals the council says that the 6 months timeshare zone is “acknowledge as a reasonable balance by the broader community”.I don’t know anyone who thinks it is reasonable. It is not balanced and it is certainly not the outcome that the overwhelming number of submissions from Guerilla Bay and Rosedale were requesting. Please do not adopt the plan in its current form. Please make the following changes: Remove the Stoney Beach at Guerilla Bay and the Boat Shed beach at Rosedale from the Prohibited beaches list. Put the main beach at Guerilla Bay and the southern end of Rosedale beach on the Off Leash beach list Reduce the onerous restrictions of the Timeshare zone by reducing both the period of year it extends for and the number of hours a day that it applies. Thank you. Both Councillors Nathan and Tait made points of congratulating Council with Tait “If anyone says we don’t listen to the public, I think this is proof that we do,”. While Councillors approved the change to Boatshed Beach they obviously weren't listening to the Guerilla Bay presentation. Presentation from the Denham Dog Walkers Group by Chris McMurray (Dr) Thank you for this opportunity to address the Council on proposed changes to the Companion Animal Management Plan. I'm representing the Denham's Beach Dog Walkers and the point I wish to make is that allowing dogs onto beaches is not just about dogs; it also makes a very valuable contribution to community health.The substantial body of research on the contribution of daily walking to reduction of lifestyle-related diseases is well known. The benefits include reduction of cardio vascular disease, diabetes and obesity[1]. Perhaps less well recognised is that there are also marked mental-health benefits, including reduced susceptibility to depression and increased self-esteem. Pet ownership brings similar benefits[2], and if that pet is a dog, the owner is motivated to persist with regular exercise, while social interaction is facilitated. Walking with a dog also gives the owner confidence and a sense of security, and probably does reduce their vulnerability.I’m now going to speak as a person in her mid 70s who has maintained a good level of health and fitness throughout life by early morning dog-walking, including on Denhams and Wimbie Beaches. The majority of people I meet on those beaches before 7.30 have a dog with them, and most are regulars. I’ve come to know quite a few and we always exchange greetings. I return from my walk feeling refreshed, full of energy and part of the local community. During the intervals when I haven't owned a dog I’ve overslept, skipped walks and gained weight until my family have insisted that I acquire another dog.Walking along roadsides in the Shire does not compare with walking on the beach. Many of the roads have uneven edges and lack footpaths, crossing busy roads can be very dangerous, especially for the elderly, and one doesn't meet the same people every day. When the Council proposed banning dogs from Denhams Beach I conducted an informal survey of people who frequently walk their dogs there. While all respondents said it was important for the health of their dog, 14/15 said it was important for their own health and well-being, and 12/15 said the social contact was important to them. More than half were aged 60 or more and most of the remainder were aged 30-59. It is not an exaggeration to say that in some instances walking their dog on the beach is a key factor keeping an elderly person on their feet and living independently. The revised proposal for dog access to beaches is much more appropriate than the original proposal because it takes into account the benefits to the community. That is, the health and psycho-social benefits to dog owners and the cost savings on health and nursing home services. Allowing dog access across Surf Beach is also an excellent initiative, so that beach walks in that vicinity can be extended to the recommended daily duration for good human health of at least 30 minutes.Most people who walk dogs on beaches regularly are responsible, picking up after their dogs and complying with regulations. Those who do not observe these practices are nearly always outsiders or new to the area, so it is critically important that the regulations are clearly posted at all points of beach access. It is pleasing that a budget has been provided for signage..I’d like to conclude by thanking the Council on behalf of the Denham Dog Walkers group. It is gratifying that you have responded to our feedback on the original proposal and we urge you to endorse the revised proposal. [1] For a summary see[2] For example,

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