Widespread changes proposed for Lake Mac dog exercise areas

Up to 10 new off-leash dog exercise areas are on the table in Lake Macquarie after extensive community consultation earlier this year.

Lake Macquarie City Council will today launch its second round of consultation, aimed at gauging the community’s response to proposed changes to existing dog off-leash areas and potential sites for new facilities.

They include 10 locations earmarked for possible future off-leash areas, including the northern end of Catherine Hill Bay Beach, Myuna Bay Foreshore Reserve, Pinny Beach and Pasterfield Reserve at Cameron Park.

The proposal includes alterations to another 21 off-leash areas across Lake Mac to address potential conflict with other activities or the environment, or to broadly improve their function.

Proposed changes include adjusting boundaries and changing time restrictions, while two sites – Pendlebury Park at Bonnells Bay and Bernie Goodwin Oval at Morisset – could be relocated to more suitable spots nearby.

A further seven sites have no proposed changes.

Section Manager Community Assets Brendan Callander said the proposed changes were in direct response to a suitability assessment completed for each site, and community feedback collected earlier this year.

“We had over 800 responses to our first round of consultation, which really shows the passion and interest regarding dogs in open spaces in Lake Mac,” he said.

“That hasn’t just come from dog owners. It’s also people using these various areas who might interact with dogs. Sometimes that’s a positive interaction, other times perhaps not so much, and we need to take all of that into account.”

Feedback from the latest round will help finalise the draft Dogs in Open Space Strategy, expected to be placed on exhibition later this year.

The strategy will provide the framework for future planning and management of dog off-leash areas including prioritising infrastructure and outlining where dogs are allowed off-leash, and where they are prohibited.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the city was home to more than 92,000 registered dogs – one of the highest ownership rates in NSW.

“Lake Mac loves dogs, but with our growing population, smaller living spaces and finite open space, we need to have the right plans in place to keep them happy and healthy,” she said.

“We’ve also got to balance those needs with what the wider community needs, expects and desires.”

Council currently provides 30 dog facilities across Lake Mac, from fenced, formalised dog parks to shared off-leash areas on a number of beaches, suburban and lake foreshore reserves.

Drop-in sessions will be held across the city as part of the latest round of consultation. Go to shape.lakemac.com.au/dogs for more information and to provide feedback before 22 August.

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