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Dog park changes could be ruff

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Under proposed council changes, dogs would no longer be welcome at parts of Redhead Beach.

On or off-leash pooches would need to remain south of Second Creek when enjoying the city’s most popular exercise spot.

It’s just one of 25 changes seeking community feedback before Lake Macquarie City Council redrafts its Dogs in Open Space Strategy early 2023.

There are currently 92,000 registered dogs in Lake Macquarie – one of the highest dog ownership rates in NSW.

Council’s draft strategy outlines 10 new dog off-leash areas across the city, including at Catherine Hill Bay, Cameron Park, Hillsborough, Morisset Peninsula and Pinny Beach.

Changes are proposed for 25 existing off-leash areas.

Section manager community assets Brendan Callander says community feedback is behind a rethink of proposed changes to off-leash dog exercise areas.

“We’ve listened to the community, and the final proposal strikes a balance between what we’re required to do under the Companion Animals Act, and what the community wants us to provide at the site,” he said.

After council initially proposed reducing the size of the off-leash area at Thomas H Halton Park in Croudace Bay, a raft of submissions made it clear that most people wanted the area retained.

Under the revised draft strategy, the existing off-leash area will be retained, except for a 10m buffer around the fenced playground and barbecue area.

A bushland area in the park, and the new hit wall/basketball court area will also be off-limits.

At Redhead Beach proposed changes would make the stretch of sand north of Second Creek off-limits for all dogs, whether they are on or off a lead.

The off-leash area south of Second Creek would remain as-is.

Dog owners would be able to directly access the Second Creek off-leash area from the existing car park on Cain Street.

The draft strategy will guide council’s planning for open spaces for dogs over the next 10 years.

“That will apply to all the open spaces we manage, from parks and bushland to sportsground, beaches and the lake foreshore,” Mr Callender said.

Some sites will adjust boundaries, others will change the time periods where dogs can exercise off-lead, while others involve improvements to facilities to make them more dog-friendly.

The change aligns with the Dogs in Open Space Framework, which is part of the draft strategy, placing a 400m shoreline buffer between all patrolled beaches in the city and dog off-leash areas.

“But this will ensure we have an adequate stretch of beach available for people to enjoy without dogs,” he said.

“It will also remove confusion regarding the presence of dogs between First and Second Creek.”

Feedback is sought before 30 November.

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