Dogs Allowed To Walk Port Stephens Beaches

A happy pooch enjoying the Anna Bay beachside lifestyle.

 

IN what looks like a response to community feedback to date Council has launched yet another survey into dog use of beaches in and around the Anna Bay area.

There was keen interest in maintaining the status quo for our four legged friends in the neighbourhoods of Anna Bay and Boat Harbour with residents choosing to allow pooches access to beaches.

Senior Community Recreation Planning Officer Paul Burton said, “Our last review was back in 2014 and we know a lot has changed since then — dogs are a valued member of the family, communities have changed, recreational spaces have been upgraded and how people use these shared spaces is different,” he said.

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“Listening to our community and finding balance for everyone who uses public spaces was really key this time around.”

In November 2020, Port Stephens Council held two community drop-in sessions and ran an online survey.

“We had a great response to our engagement late last year,” Paul Burton said.

There were huge numbers of residents in attendance at both consultation events.

“The feedback from dog owners and non-dog owners alike was really constructive and helped us come up with a plan that is equitable for all users.”

As well as community engagement, the dog exercise areas review took into account benchmarking with other councils and a site analysis to identify opportunities for improvement.

Central Ward Councillor Sarah Smith said this review came off the back of a request from locals.

“Everyone loves walking on our beautiful beaches — especially in peak periods.

“We’ve worked really closely with residents on this review and it’s important we get the balance right for everyone in our shared spaces.

“I think this review reflects that happy medium,” Cr Smith said.

Proposed changes from this review include allowing dogs off lead at Birubi Beach before 9am and after 5pm during the peak period of October to April.

Dogs will also be allowed off lead at all times during the off-peak period of May to September.

At Boat Harbour beach, dogs will be allowed on-lead to walk along the beach to access the headlands before 9am and after 5pm.

This change will provide a new route to access the off lead area located on the South Headland and also for those that like to walk their dog on lead.

Exercise areas at Boat Harbour and Fishermans Bay Park have also been changed to better reflect the areas suitable for off lead use.

Kelly Hammond of Anna Bay’s Birubi Paws told News Of The Area, “Along with other Birubi Paws members I would like to understand why the loss of significant off-leash area at Boat Harbour Headland is being proposed?

“This is being seen as a significant change and never communicated during community consultation.

“Is this linked to the future Tomaree Headland walk?

“If so it’s completely understandable and the community would understand the change.

“Could you please give me a little more information to share with our strong 300 members.

“Apart from the above the review is being seen very favorably,” she said.

Members of the community are encouraged to respond to these changes at haveyoursay.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/dog-off-lead-review by 5pm 6 June 2021.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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