The shire council claims it ‘consulted’ with Inverloch surf club members, most of whom don’t live locally, before it hastily introducing this small off-leash area east of Wave Street at its December 10 council meeting but they didn’t ask the surfers who frequent the area nor local residents about the likely impact.
by Michael Giles
THERE are many more important things that the Bass Coast Shire Council should be doing instead of wasting its time, and our money, on the ‘dogs on beaches’ issue.
For one, it should be incorporating its Rural Land Use Strategy into the local planning scheme, as a matter of urgency, so that landowners and the general community can have confidence that the planning scheme is doing what it is designed to do.
Drilling down to Inverloch, where the dogs on beaches issue has bitten hardest, the council should instead be concentrating on getting its new neighbourhood character rules in place, and for goodness sake, getting on with the urgent task of constructing a concrete footpath, at least as far as the surf club.
While the council is distracted, though, the green leafy character of the town is being destroyed by developers (including on the block next to Cr Jordan Crugnale’s own beachfront home) and both locals and visitors alike are being left at risk while walking along the dangerously narrow Surf Parade.
However dogs on beaches are the issue of the day: Inverloch did not have a dog problem before the Bass Coast Shire Council created it.
Well that’s not entirely true.
It had two relatively minor problems associated with dogs on the beach; (i.) some people did not pick up after their pooches and (ii.) there was a need to protect the Hooded Plover nesting areas.
Generally though, dog owners acted responsibly when visiting the beaches in the town by putting their dogs back on the leash when other people or dogs were around (or when approaching the Hooded Plover area) and by picking up after themselves.
For those very rare (and largely undocumented) occasions when a dog ‘rushed’ at someone or their dog, or attacked, the laws were already in place to deal with these matters.
But, in a classic bureaucratic response (again to an undocumented problem), the shire council has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut and, in so doing, created all sorts of issues.
Where there was previously a lot of space on Inverloch’s beaches for people to walk their dogs, the confusing array of new rules and almost comical new signs has concentrated the problem; impacting other beach users more intensely and, you guessed it, concentrating the poop problem as well.
The key poop areas now are, predictably, in the designated off leash areas, between Grandview Grove and Cuttriss Street in the east and, to a lesser extent because of the restricted hours, between Wave Street and Ozone Street in the west.
Imagine how pleased the residents in these areas are that their beaches have now become ‘Poop Central’ (and I need to declare a pecuniary interest here as I live in the latter location).
It’s interesting to note that a designated off-leash area, near Cr Crugnale’s house was recently removed from the Domestic Animals Act schedule “due to environmental concerns and exposed rocks”.
Now, it would be ridiculous to suggest that Inverloch’s councillor had anything to do with that but the point is that no one wants a poop station out the front of their house – nor do they need to have one!
Solution – scrap all the rules and keep it simple.
Either go back to the way it was and let people take responsibility for the behaviour of their own dogs on the beach or demonstrate what the problem is.
Not only is the present situation creating unnecessary division and angst in the community but it is also costing us plenty in preparations and compliance costs.
The scary thing is that it’s probably a fair indication of how the shire council and its administration are running the whole show.