HAVE YOUR SAY

Northern beaches off-leash dog beaches get a renewed push

IN SUPPORT: Narrabeen woman Victoria Price says she'd love a new off-leash dog beach for her mini dachshund Archie. Picture: Geoff Jones
IN SUPPORT: Narrabeen woman Victoria Price says she'd love a new off-leash dog beach for her mini dachshund Archie. Picture: Geoff Jones

DOG owners have thrown their support behind a proposal to have space on two beaches for their off-leash pooches to exercise and swim.

The areas are the southern end of Mona Vale Beach and the northern end of Palm Beach and councillors want to know what the public think.

At council's recent meeting it called for an environment assessment report and a month-long community consultation into the proposal. If successful, it could lead to a 12-month trial for off-leash dog zones on both beaches from 4pm to 10am, seven days a week.

The renewed push for off-leash beaches comes following a failed trial at Station Beach which led to council being criticised by the Land and Environment Court for allowing dogs on the strip of sand along Pittwater at Palm Beach.

The location of the proposed 300 metre long off-leash dog beach at Mona Vale Beach. Picture: Northern Beaches Council

The location of the proposed 300 metre long off-leash dog beach at Mona Vale Beach. Picture: Northern Beaches Council

Narrabeen woman Victoria Price and her mini dachshund Archie often use the South Mona Vale Headland off-leash park and she'd love to be able to take her dog to an off-leash beach area below this park.

"My dog loves the water," she said. "It'd get people out on the beaches and it brings people a lot of joy. Bayview and Clontarf are very clean, I've never seen any dog pollution and I think people will do the right thing."

Mona Vale woman Fabienne Boughton said she'd love to have more dog-friendly beach options. "It'd be wonderful to be able to go to the beach and bring your dog with you," she said.

Off-leash dog beaches might be controversial in the LGA, but data shows that 60 per cent of northern beaches dwellings have a dog - there's 101,475 households and 61,296 microchipped dogs.

Pittwater Unleashed's Mitch Geddes welcomed the councillors' decision, but queried who really holds the power if there's so many dogs yet the push to have more off-leash beach areas is met with so much opposition.

The location of the proposed 400 metre long off-leash dog beach at Palm Beach. Picture: Northern Beaches Council

The location of the proposed 400 metre long off-leash dog beach at Palm Beach. Picture: Northern Beaches Council

"The council is doing what it can, albeit slowly, and when Station Beach got overturned council were in there batting for us," he said. "They're doing, finally, what needs to be done."

The proposed areas are just 700 metres of the coastline (400m in Palm Beach and 300m in Mona Vale) and Mr Geddes said this represents just three per cent of the coastline from Warriewood to Barrenjoey. He urged dog owners to "speak up and be heard" when public submissions open.

In a statement on its website Palm Beach Protection Group said it "remains perplexing as to why these two beaches have been chosen for the feasibility report without a rigorous examination of alternative sites including non-beach sites".

"We call on council to ensure that robust and expert environmental assessment is undertaken and that any outcome that is concluded from these assessments is cognisant of all environmental sensitivities irrespective of public opinion or activism."

We do want to support more off leash opportunities in the northern end of our local government area.

Northern Beaches Council mayor Michael Regan

Mayor Michael Regan said council is trying to balance the needs of dog owners and those of others in the community.

"We do want to support more off leash opportunities in the northern end of our local government area as there are not many options for people to take their dogs for a swim," he said.

There's currently three off-leash dog beaches in the LGA - Rowland Reserve in Bayview, Sandy Bay in Clontarf and, at certain times, Mackerel Beach. Dogs are banned from all other beaches.

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