Dog owners of Inverloch may be interested to know that at the last Bass Coast Shire Council meeting, CEO, Allan Bawden, admitted that there had been no consultation on the issue of restricting the times Inverloch residents can walk their dog, on-leash, on a public beach.
He claimed that consultation was not needed because this was a ‘trial’.
What he failed to explain is how the current arrangements could be accurately described as a ‘trial’ when the resolution of Council passed in October made no mention of the word ‘trial’ except when specifically referring to the provision of off-leash areas.
In fact, in the gazetted order that made this resolution a by-law, the word ‘trial’ is not mentioned.
The law has been made on an ‘each year’ basis. Any claims that the restrictions are a trial are misleading. In any event, if denying hundreds of dog owners reasonable access to beaches for a five month period and disrupting the holidays of many unsuspecting visitors is not considered worthy of consultation, then what is?
Inverloch residents, business owners and visitors will also be interested to know that the reason given by Cr Crugnale for ruining many people’s Christmas holidays is, according to an official council report, that a total of 135 people out of those surveyed across the shire (1476 people), just 9 per cent, indicated that they thought dogs should be banned from beaches.
This data does not make clear whether it is in reference to leashed or off-leash dogs. We simply do not know.
Furthermore, Cr Crugnale supported her argument to bring in this new bylaw by making the claim (quoting unsubstantiated data) that Inverloch has had serious issues with dogs on its beaches.
The only information I could gather to gauge the validity of this claim was by asking a member at the Inverloch Police Station who said that he was unaware of any dog ‘attacks’ occurring in the past 12 months and from a council director who indicated that the incidents quoted were not at all of a serious nature, included on and off-beach events, did not distinguish between leashed and off-leash dogs and included reports made about dogs barking, lost dogs and all sorts of other minor occurrences. So, unfortunately, it appears that data of a very dubious nature was used to support Cr Crugnale’s call for the imposition of this draconian bylaw upon her constituents.
It is yet to be proven otherwise.
Further, it has not been demonstrated by any data or consultation that on-leash dogs pose any significant problem on Inverloch’s beaches.
So, if no data exists to say that on-leash dogs are a problem on Inverloch’s beaches, why ban them?
Why even bother to conduct a so-called ‘trial’.
Why stick with an unjustified bylaw that does not have broad community acceptance?
This issue may sound insignificant to many people, but I would like readers to consider dog and non-dog owners alike, that today it is about dogs and tomorrow it may be your issue.
I hope for all of our sakes that council gets its act together and starts operating as the democratic law-making body it is intended to be. Approaching issues from an unbiased, representative perspective and following due process would be a good start. If the councillors who ignored public opinion (2300 signatures against) and voted for these changes had an ounce of decency, they would call an emergency meeting to immediately overturn their undemocratic decision and to bring in arrangements that are a more in-line with what the broader community finds reasonable.
Ms A. Taylor, Inverloch.