Feedback prompts changes to draft Lake Mac dogs strategy

Community feedback has prompted a rethink of proposed changes to off-leash dog exercise areas at Croudace Bay, as Lake Macquarie City Council takes its draft Dogs in Open Space Strategy back to residents for a final round of consultation.

Council initially proposed reducing the size of the off-leash area at Thomas H Halton Park, but a raft of submissions during community consultation earlier this year made it clear that most people wanted the area retained.

Section Manager Community Assets Brendan Callander said the revised proposal responded to those requests.

“We’ve listened to the community, and the final proposal strikes a balance between what we’re required to do under the Companion Animals Act, and what the community wants us to provide at the site,” he said.

Under the revised draft strategy, the existing off-leash area will be retained, except for a 10m buffer around the fenced playground and barbecue area.

A bushland area in the park, and the new hit wall/basketball court area will also be off-limits.

With more than 92,000 registered dogs in Lake Mac, the city has one of the highest dog ownership rates in NSW.

Mr Callander said the draft strategy would guide Council’s planning for open spaces for dogs over the next 10 years.

“That will apply to all the open spaces we manage, from parks and bushland to sportsground, beaches and the lake foreshore,” he said.

The draft strategy outlines 10 new dog off-leash areas across the city, including at Catherine Hill Bay, Cameron Park, Hillsborough, Morisset Peninsula and Pinny Beach.

Changes are proposed for 25 existing off-leash areas.

Some would adjust boundaries, others would change the time periods where dogs can exercise off-lead, while others involve improvements to facilities to make them more dog-friendly.

At Redhead Beach – one of the city’s most popular spots for exercising dogs – proposed changes would make the stretch of sand north of Second Creek off-limits for all dogs, whether they are on or off a lead.

The off-leash area south of Second Creek would remain as-is.

The change aligns with the Dogs in Open Space Framework, which is part of the draft strategy, placing a 400m shoreline buffer between all patrolled beaches in the city and dog off-leash areas.

“We know people enjoy walking their dogs on Redhead Beach, and this adjustment will require a change of habit for some of them,” Mr Callander said.

“But this will ensure we have an adequate stretch of beach available for people to enjoy without dogs. It will also remove confusion regarding the presence of dogs between First and Second Creek.”

“It’s also important to remember that under the proposed change, dogs and their owners will still have one of the longest stretches of beach on the NSW coast to enjoy.”

Dog owners would be able to directly access the Second Creek off-leash area from the existing car park on Cain Street.

Go to shape.lakemac.com.au/dogs to provide feedback before 30 November.

This feedback will be assessed before a final draft strategy is tabled to Council early next year.

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