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Bayside City Council and the Dog Community - Part 2

Updated: Apr 1

Elwood the Golden Retriever at Ricketts Point

Photo Credit: Elwood the Golden Retriever at Ricketts Point Beach by Annette Butterss

So, the Council meeting regarding the Biodiversity Draft Plan has been and gone. Held on Tuesday, 19th of June, the meeting ran for over 4 hours. The Biodiversity issue started at the 3hour and 3 minute mark of the meeting. There were 30 speakers registered to talk and each had 3 minutes to say their thing. The link to the video is below. You can have a listen and feel the passion for the issue regarding removing off leash areas in Bayside. People from the Bayside Dog Owners Group spoke and as well as those who represented the Bayside Dog Alliance and even others from the community.

Here is what I said in my 3 mins....

My name is Kate Mularczyk and I run the Bayside Dog Owners Group on Facebook. We have over 3,300 members along with a website where we post articles about living in Bayside and dog ownership. The site gets over one hundred hits daily not only from all over Australia but internationally.

Bayside Dog Owners appreciate walking our dogs in the lovely open spaces, beaches and parks. We know we are lucky but most of us have worked hard for this privilege.

Bayside City Council recognises that – and I quote

"There are great benefits to help your dog stay happy and healthy, such as exercise and socialisation. You increase these benefits – by mixing things up, like taking your dogs to different parks, walking different routes or going to an off-leash beach."

At the moment, we have three 24hr off leash beaches: Beaumaris Yacht Club – Ricketts Point, Sandringham Harbour and Sandown Street in Brighton.

According to the draft Biodiversity plan - the Ricketts Point Beach is likely to be removed from our use. As is George St Reserve.

The discussion over on the "Have Your Say" site has drawn many comments – most people pleading for MORE off lead areas - not less.

In Bayside, there are approximately 13 off lead parks. Most of these have restrictions on our use. We share some of them with sporting clubs which means when the clubs are there - no off lead is allowed.

Council provides just one FULLY fenced off lead area and it is now showing serious signs of wear and tear. I live opposite this park and have seen the usage rates climbing steadily in the past year.

From page 20 of the Bayside Domestic Animal Management Plan: "...However Council recognises that there may be benefits in the provision of a gated environment to enable individuals and their pets to learn and test effective control."

Dog Registration fees (for a desexed dog) are $76.50 per annum, the highest of all Metropolitan councils. City of Port Phillip are next with $67.00. Yes, we appreciate our dog bags and dispensers but what we don't appreciate is the lack of enclosed areas and that areas are being taken away.

According to the Bayside DAMP, there were 12,332 dogs registered in 2016 - a $$ input of at least $900,000.

Consider Frankston council - in 2016 they had 19,690 registered dogs. Registration fee is $50 and this month they are opening a new, off lead enclosed park. Supplying a fully fenced area with agility equipment, picnic area, seating, drink taps and dog bowls. Manningham, Knox, Darebin, Mornington Peninsula and Kingston are just some of the other councils who all have 'dog play parks'. These all collect less in registration fees yet are encouraging activity in their dog communities.

I ask our council, why NOT provide MORE amenities to dog owners rather than less? Why not, look at including our dog community in consultation, provide more secure spaces and, if you feel the need to take away a space, why not replace it with another?

If you would like to see the video of the 30 speakers - please click on this link and fast forward until you are at 3hrs and 3 mins - that's where the public speakers start to talk on the Biodiversity plan

The meeting went over time so we had to return on the following night, where one person spoke and then the councillors voted. Fabulously, it was voted to keep the George Street Reserve as off leash but we lost Ricketts Point Beach. Needless to say, many are unhappy about Ricketts Point and there will be a concerted effort by many (hopefully lead by the Bayside Dog Alliance) to lobby for a reversal of the decision.

If you want to keep informed about the issue - please request to join the Bayside Dog Alliance over on facebook.

Elwood the Golden Retriever at Ricketts Point

Photo Credit: Elwood the Golden Retriever at Ricketts Point Beach by Annette Butterss

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