THE campaign to beat the ban on horses getting access to the beach at Coronet Bay has been characterised as a classic ex-city resident versus country resident clash with horse manure at the centre of the debate.
And the anti-ban fight will escalate this week when horse supporters present a petition to the Bass Coast Shire Council with more than 1000 signatures on it.
As council petitions go, it’s a big number and councillors will be bound to take notice of it.
But it may be that a permit system, with a fee attached, will be used to control the number of horses and horse floats that park at the end of Norsemens Road to gain access to the Corinella and Coronet Bay foreshores.
Local horse rider Katie McDowall presented the petition to councillors last week requesting they leave the beaches unrestricted for horses, after residents complained to council about access to the beach, the number of horse floats parked at times, and safety and noise concerns.
The 75-page petition had 1004 signatures, including signatures of 124 Bass Coast residents, when it was presented to councillors on Wednesday, May 10 at a community connection session.
At the session, Ms McDowall said she would be happy to pay for a permit to bring her horse to the beach.
Although Ms McDowall, and more than 1000 other passionate horse lovers, are against any time restrictions for horses on the beach.
But on Friday, May 12, council’s community safety team emailed Ms McDowall to say they will look into introducing time restrictions.
“Council officers have been asked to present a council report at the June 21 council meeting with details about how a local law permit system could be introduced to place controls around the parking of horse floats and horse access to the beach at the end of Norsemens Road in Coronet Bay,” the email read.
“The permit system would include time restrictions on when horses are allowed to access the beach but would allow ongoing, limited access to horse trainers and recreational riders.
“The permit system would include conditions that must be followed for the use of the carpark, access track and beach area for horse riders.
“It is suggested that a trial permit system be introduced initially to ensure all relevant requirements have been included in the permit system to allow safe, shared access to all beach users.”
The petition will be received at council’s ordinary meeting on Wednesday, May 17, but will “lay on the table” until the next meeting when the permit proposal and other access conditions will be considered.
The petition prayer reminds councillors that a lot of people ride horses and that it is the third largest employer in Australia.
“We the undersigned are petitioning against the proposed ban or any imposed restrictions of horses on the Corinella Foreshore, access via Norsemens Road, Coronet Bay.
“Many people enjoy taking their horses down to the beach for a relaxing day out on the Corinella Foreshore. It provides a unique opportunity to be able to swim them and train them in an environment which has many benefits to their physical and mental wellbeing.
“We urge you to reconsider banning or restricting our equine companion’s access on and to the Corinella Foreshore! Where else would we be able to go! There are many other dog beaches and non-animal friendly beaches. The horses are important too!”