dogsonleashOver the past few weeks, residents have written to me with comments and concerns relating to rules that apply to dogs on beaches and dogs off-leash areas. The time restrictions for dogs on beaches have been put in place from December 1 to April 30 for Inverloch between the hours of 8am and 8pm. The previous time restrictions in place for some beaches under Bass Coast Shire Council management were 10am to 5pm and 8pm to 7am for the same period and for other beaches, dogs were not permitted from 9am to 6pm. My recommendation for the change in times were based around many factors, including people, such as families with children, and the elderly, using the beach early in the morning and in the later afternoon to avoid the intensity of the hot midday; safety for everyone; and also the ease of remembering the actual times. Outside of these months, the dog off-leash areas and dogs on-leash areas on beaches are not restricted by time. The Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) Committee was formed with Inverloch as its first ‘project’. The members of this committee were from all fronts, representing all interest groups and agencies. The report to council recommended their proposed four off-leash areas for our town after an extensive survey, which was well responded to. Inverloch has been a quite complex case to try and reach a consensus that pleases, or at least appeases, most. My recommendation varied the times from what is standard across the shire and also included the trial component, with a report coming to council in May 2014. This enables us to actively review and make any adjustments based on findings for the following summer period. I believe the outcome of the council meeting last month is one of balance, taking into account the varied concerns and needs of the community and stakeholders, including Parks Victoria and friends of the Hooded Plover. I understand that the times may not suit all dog owners and obviously the tides can be a further impediment to the early and late evening walks; however it is about trying to cater for all users and compromising to some degree. The summer period in Inverloch is busy and many people flock to the beaches early and also in the late afternoon. The areas near the angling club and Ayr Creek are highly populated, especially with young children, and there are also high density areas in between. We have environmentally sensitive areas including Screw Creek, and Point Norman has its struggling hooded plover nesting and breeding area. For your information, many councils have time restrictions where dogs are not allowed on beaches at all. A few examples listed below: • Hobsons Bay, November 1 to April 30, 8am to 9pm • Frankston, December 1 to March 30, 9.30am to 7.30pm • Mornington, 9am to 7pm during daylight saving • Surf Coast, December 1 to February 28, and Easter (time share areas), 9am to 7pm. Cr Jordan Crugnale, Bass Coast Shire Council.