EXCLUSIVE

Northern beaches: Off-leash dog beach trials gain majority support

EMPTY BEACH: Councillor Rory Amon at the northern end of Palm Beach where the off-leash dog trial may take place. Picture: Geoff Jones
EMPTY BEACH: Councillor Rory Amon at the northern end of Palm Beach where the off-leash dog trial may take place. Picture: Geoff Jones

THE votes are in, and the community has overwhelmingly supported off-leash dog trials at two beaches.

Council is considering two areas: a 400 metre stretch of sand at the northern end of Palm Beach and 300m at the southern end of Mona Vale Beach. If the 12-month trial goes ahead, off-leash dogs will be allowed in those areas from 4pm to 10am, seven days a week.

Council called for the public's opinion and 6848 submissions were received. Of those, 3486 were for Mona Vale Beach (south) with 82 per cent of them in support of the trial; while 3362 were received for Palm Beach (north) with 85 per cent in support.

Councillor Rory Amon said despite claims from some people that the community is against the trial, the submissions prove otherwise.

"These numbers are consistent with the numbers we saw from the Station Beach proposal," he said.

"No proposal attracts 85 per cent of the community for anything. Proposals like this where people say they're going to be controversial usually you see a much closer split, 50-50 or 45-55. People say it's so controversial, well it's not really, 85 per cent is pretty significant."

People say it's so controversial, well it's not really, 85 per cent is pretty significant.

Councillor Rory Amon

Council CEO Ray Brownlee praised the community for its feedback said it was "a comparatively high number of responses".

"We did expect it to be so given the levels of passion for the issue of off-leash dog areas in our community," he said.

"We are still considering all the written and emailed submissions and will provide a full report to the elected council in due course as well as any other necessary assessment reports."

Cr Amon said allocating two beach areas where dogs are allowed off-leash will curb people breaking the rules.

"We see dogs on beaches where they're not allowed," he said. "We see them in environmentally sensitive areas, for example Fishermans Bay at Long Reef where we saw the seal attacked by a dog.

"By actually providing designated off-leash areas on certain parks and beaches you actually set up a framework through which people can comply rather than it just being free-rein which is what it is currently."

A council spokesperson said final percentages are subject to change once reviewed for duplicates. A report on the submissions will be presented at this month's council meeting.

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