The Northern Beaches Council released last week a review of the Dog Parks in the Northern Beaches following representation by dog owner groups last year that there were inadequate off-leash areas.
It was revealed that there are a staggering 43,000 registered dogs in the Northern Beaches. It is unclear how many homes have dogs as many homes may have more than one dog.
Interestingly the report found that Council believed that the off leash dog areas within the Northern Beaches LGA was adequate as there is a higher supply in comparison to four similar sized local government areas in Sydney, and residents are able to access these areas with no more than 10 minutes driving time.
Dog owner representatives argued however that most of these areas are overcrowded, and do not provide adequate facilities.
Current Locations of Unleashed Dog Exercise Areas
Currently Council provides 26 Unleashed Dog Exercise Areas in the three regions including:
1. Hitchcock Park, Careel Bay
2. Dearin Reserve, Newport
3. South Mona Vale Headland (Robert Dunn Reserve)
4. Progress Park, Narrabeen
5. Rowland Reserve, Bayview
6. Mackerel Beach Reserve – from the public wharf north to the boundary with the National Park between
sunrise to 9.30am and 5:00pm to sunset
7. McCarrs Creek Reserve, McCarrs Creek – trial unleashed dog area allowing for unleashed dogs at the western
end of the reserve on weekdays (excluding public holidays) only
8. Deep Creek Reserve – Unleashed Dog Training Area
9. Forestville Memorial Playing Fields
10. Currie Road, Forestville (near Forestville Park)
11. Beverley Job Reserve, Narraweena
12. Flora and Ritchie Roberts Reserve, Griffin Road, Curl Curl (Curl Curl Lagoon)
13. John Fisher Park, Adams Street, Curl Curl
14. Hinkler Park, Pittwater Road, Queenscliff
15. Truman Reserve, Cromer
16. Griffith Park, Long Reef
17. Frenchs Forest Showground, Frenchs Forest
18. LM Graham Reserve, Fairlight
19. Lagoon Park, Queenscliff
20. Manly Cemetery, Fairlight
21. North Harbour Reserve, Condamine Street, Balgowlah
The Council committed $400,000.00, over four years, to be spent to improve facilities for dogs and their owners.
Manly Lagoon Issues
A site specific issue has been identified following complaints concerning dog usage of Manly Lagoon at Queenscliff Bridge. The boundary between the two former Councils at this location was the centre of the Lagoon. The southern bank of the Lagoon formed ‘Manly Lagoon Park’ which is a designated unleashed dog area. However, dogs enter the water at this location and often encroach onto the northern bank and into private properties opposite. One resident informed Council at the meeting that it was not uncommon for dogs to enter his property, even his home, from the other side of the Lagoon.
There is also a playground, barbecue facilities and a cycleway at Manly Lagoon Park which can cause conflicting issues with dogs off-leash. The Council has undertaken to investigate these areas further.
A Manly Councillor has been savaged on social media with his comment that people who can’t walk dogs themselves don’t deserve to own one.
And it’s got legs, running on interstate and other online sites, and prompting mocking retorts such as; “You shouldn’t have children if you rely on childcare?”
Liberal Cr Alan Le Surf made the comment during a council debate on new licensing policies for commercial dog walking in Manly.
The discussion was prompted by Good For Manly Cr Candy Bingham’s call for a review of the policy, which banned commercial walkers from LM Graham Reserve, reduced their numbers and limited the number of dogs they could walk each day.
It infuriated dog owners, who said the new policy was unfair and had been introduced without community consultation.
Local vet Dr Beth McDonald said about 50% of households already have a dog, and that number is likely to increase as changes to strata laws make apartment buildings more pet friendly. She said studies have shown that pets are good for their owners’ wellbeing, especially in an ageing population where many people live on their own.
And while most people walk their own animals as much as they can, many need professional walkers to fill in the gaps. And some, such as unwell, or poorly-sighted older people, could never cope on their own. Not enough dog walkers would mean more restless, barking dogs driving the neighbours crazy.
In the end the councillors played ball, with a new park - Manly West in Balgowlah - to be considered as a new fully-fenced site. As well the council will make sure that local dog walkers are favoured over out-of-area businesses when license permits are given out.
“It’s a good outcome,” Cr Bingham said.
“I know the dog walkers loved LM Graham Reserve, because it was fully-fenced and very safe for dogs, but it was becoming over-used and there were problems with sports people and lots of dogs sharing the same space.
“The reserve is still available for people to walk their own dogs and now we will have an additional fully-fenced area nearby.”
The new policies will be reviewed in September next year.
Image: Dr McDonald with her labrador Ned. She says exercise and socialisation are essential for dogs.
It's bad news for Manly dog owners and their pets. Professional dog walkers have been savaged by a recent council decision to ban them from LM Graham Reserve, reduce their numbers and limit the number of dogs they can walk each day.
Last month, without consulting dog owners or dog walking businesses, the council closed Graham Reserve to commercial dog walkers. This is despite it being considered the safest local dog venue as it has a designated, fenced dog exercise area. That means that only Seaforth Oval, Tania Park and Manly Lagoon Reserve remain available for the businesses to use.
In addition, dog walkers numbers have been cut by means of a new permit system. The council issued nine permits only - not nearly enough to meet demand. To make matters worse, each dog walker is only allowed two walks per day at one designated venue.
Dog owners are furious, with more than 600 signing a petition for change. They want more permits, more walks per permit, and for Graham Reserve to remain part of the mix. They also accuse Manly Council of breaching the 1993 Local Government Act by failing to comply with a requirement for community consultation.
“Manly is an area of dog lovers”, Good For Manly Cr Candy Bingham said.
“It is estimated that about 50% of people here own dogs. Most of them walk their own dogs, but many use the services of professional dog walkers. Now we have a situation where there are just not enough to go around.
“Of course we need to balance the use of our public parkland so everyone can enjoy it, but the existing system was working well. I don’t know why the council didn’t talk to the people involved before rushing into this decision.”
Cr Bingham is also concerned that local dog walkers missed out on the permits, with several going to out-of-area businesses. "It concerns me that once again Council seems to have made a rushed decision with no consultation. Even the Councillors had not been informed", she said.
Update: At the Council meeting on Monday 9/9/13, following major protests by dog owners, a five month 'cooling-off' period was agreed to and a working party is to be established to address this issue.
It's been an ongoing issue for years - the users of the playing fields vs dog owners at LMGraham Reserve at Fairlight.
Following ongoing complaints about dog poo on the fields and kids getting covered in it during matches, the Council has stepped in to create a designated area for dogs by fencing off an area in the Reserve for dogs.
Council’s planned area will be bounded along Kenneth Road and measures 130mtrs x 20mtrs. = 2,600 square metres for dog off leash area as a dog designated exercise area. See map below.
The new fencing will cost $25,000 and contractors are expected to get working next week erecting it. Included in the area will be a tap for dogs water, a bin for the bags, and a park bench seat under the trees will be installed.
Other off-leash dog areas in Manly are at: Seaforth Oval, Tania Park, North Harbour Reserve, Manly Cemetery and Manly Lagoon Park
Conflicts between dogs and humans sharing sporting fields has been an issue for some time at Graham Reserve. Working with RDogs (Responsible Dog Owners ) a solution may have been found.
Council has endorsed a recommendation that a designated off-leash area would be a good compromise to help with the delineation of the sporting and passive uses of the reserve, and would assist in resolving the conflicts currently experienced by the various user groups of the grounds.
An investigation is underway to find where best this off-leash area could operate.
A recent report from Phil Speer is a concern:
"On Tuesday 14 June at approximately 7:30 am, I was walking toward Manly Wharf. On the beach near the pool netting was a penguin being attacked by two crows. As one crow would grab the penguin it would spin to bite the crow and then the crow on the other side would attack the penguin. Crows are smart birds. Two of us chased away the crow and a guy from Oceanworld came and wrapped the penguin in a towel and took it away. The penguin had some bite/peck marks on its back with some bleeding but was not too bad. The weather was awful and the seas very rough and it probably was very tired because of this."
This morning (Sunday 26/6) Rob Burgess saw a crow poking around the rock crevices near the penguin nesting area at Foundation Steps.
While a lot has been done to manage the behaviour of dogs around penguins maybe the focus should now turn to crows?
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.