Off-leash at Jones?

Mark Way with his dog Kong. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Mark Way with his dog Kong. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

A PROPOSAL for a dog off-leash area at the southern end of Jones Beach, Kiama Downs, would meet significant community demand, councillor Mark way believes.

Mr Way, a Kiama Downs resident, said there were large numbers of dog owners in the Kiama Downs and Minnamurra area, and Jones Beach would make an ideal location for an off-leash area.

"I've had significant demand from people in Kiama Downs and Minnamurra," he said.

"My preferred option is the southern end of Jones Beach, as it's rarely used."

In 2010, the council rejected the location due to the proximity to other off-leash areas at Bombo Beach and on the Minnamurra Headland.

Cr Way said the Bombo Beach off-leash area wasn't within walking distance for many Kiama Downs residents.

"There is significant dog ownership here ... and they'd rather not go to Bombo for various reasons. Some can't go as they don't have cars, or are older and can't drive.

"All the people I've met [in Kiama Downs] are responsible dog owners and abide by council regulations."

In April, the council's companion animals management committee considered three submissions supporting the proposal from residents in the Jones Beach area, but deferred a decision.

Since the committee's April meeting a further 35 submissions supporting the establishment of an off-leash area at Kiama Downs have been received.

Cr Way said any proposal would require community consultation. The matter is expected to be tabled at an upcoming council meeting.

The proposal for an off-leash area at Kiama Downs follows councillors pushing for an "on-leash" swimming area in the Minnamurra River.

At the May council meeting, a request to send back a council report which recommends against allowing dogs on leashes to swim in the Minnamurra River was backed by the majority of councillors.

The prospect of allowing dogs to swim "on leash" in the river was raised by Cr Warren Steel in March.

Council staff recommended that the council not proceed with the process to change current restrictions on the entry and swimming of dogs from public reserves adjoining the Minnamurra River. According to council's report, the Office of Environment and Heritage's response was that "human disturbance, including disturbance by domestic dogs, is recognised as a key threat for shorebird populations".

Cr Steel said the report should be sent back for staff to come up with a suitable area alongside the river on Riverside Drive opposite the golf course.

Cr Andrew Sloan opposed Cr Steel's motion, saying many families and children used that area.