Dog off-leash areas targeted for audit, not closure

Cr O’Pray providing the fact sheet outlining council is not closing down any dog off leash exercise areas, including Maroochy North Shore. Cr OPray is with his daughters, their new dog Muddy and locals – Stephanie Bond with her dog Sasha (far left) and Kate Bazin with Molly.

Sunshine Coast Council is currently undertaking an audit of all dog exercise areas, both on and off-leash, including parks, beaches and other locations.
Community Programs Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said council wanted to set the record straight following inaccurate rumours and speculation.
“Council is aware there has been some confusion from residents who believe the audit is about council wanting to remove dog off leash areas on beaches,” she said.
“The claims are completely untrue.”
The audit started in August 2012. It is an information gathering exercise only. It is the first part of the review of the new local law (which came in on in January 2012) in relation to dog exercise areas – Local Law No. 2 (Animal Management) 2011; and Subordinate Local Law No 2 (Animal Management) 2011.
“At the time the local law was developed and adopted, and due to the timing, Sunshine Coast Council had not completed a review of all its dog off leash areas to ensure that the:

  •  region had enough identified/gazetted areas to cater for the need
  •  identified areas were in the right locations (as identified in council adopted strategies such as the Open Space Strategy, to cater or growing communities, to not impact on other users/uses etc)
  •  signage and other infrastructure required for such areas was appropriate and well maintained.

“The audit is the first part of the review. It will provide council with its foundation information – a verified list of the dog off leash locations,” she said.
Cr McKay said it was important to note that the audit does not mean council has plans to “close down” any dog off leash area.
“Any recommendations that are generated from such an audit and would impact on the local law, requires a council decision. Before such a decision could be made, the community would need to be involved,” she said.
“Such involvement would be in the form of a community consultation program which would be used to garner community feedback, opinion and suggestions.”
Division 8 Councillor Jason OPray said a petition circulating in the region and specifically concerning the Maroochy North Shore dog off leash beach area is adding to the confusion about the intent of the audit.
“Dogs, and dog ownership and the rights of both dog and non-dog owners is a very emotive issue,” he said.
“This region has more than 43,000 registered dogs. We are extremely conscious of the need to involve all community members in any decisions council may need to make in relation to this issue.
“I have been out and about on the beach myself handing out fact sheets to local residents to address the issue and alleviate their concerns. I would like to reassure residents that there are no plans in front of council to ‘close down’ any dog off leash area, including Maroochy North Shore.”