Thursday, May 4, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
A group of passionate dog-owners, who meet at Boathaven Beach each morning, are celebrating as their appeal for a leash-free zone has been granted by Council.
Just two weeks ago, the group had been warned by inspectors that a fine of $287 would be imposed for any dogs found without a lead or swimming within the stinger net.
Previously they had been enjoying good company and leash free time at the beach without realising it was forbidden.
Deciding to fight for their rights, the group contacted this paper to gain exposure and then several individuals wrote personal letters to Council.
They also spoke directly to Councillor Jan Clifford who jumped up to support their cause.
“Jan was fantastic!” said group member, Norma Strang.
“She entered a Point of Notice for us and stood up in the Council meeting.”
During the meeting Ms Clifford asked Council for a six-month trial permitting a designated off-leash dog walking and swimming area at Boathaven Beach.
Following a lengthy discussion, it was decided to reduce the term to three months instead of six.
Five out of seven Councillors voted to approve the motion.
This means Airlie Beach centre has its first off-leash on-beach designated dog area, and the group are thrilled that their morning ritual can continue.
“We are absolutely over the moon!” said Norma.
“I hadn’t been going to the beach like I normally would because I just didn’t want the confrontation.
“The decision to give us a trial really takes the pressure off – we don’t have to worry any more – even the inspectors said they were happy too!
“The next question I have for Council is - how is the trial going to be assessed? What do we have to do to get the trial period approved and for it to become permanent?”
Norma is also worried about the behaviour of other dog-owners and hopes that everyone respects the beach.
“What happens if other people come down here and don’t behave well?” she said.
“I’d like to know what criteria Council are going to use to judge their decision.”
For now, the group are thrilled with their reprieve and happy not to be “looking over our shoulders” for the next three months.
The three-month trial allows dogs to roam free and swim outside the stinger net at Boathaven Beach between 5.30am and 8.30am every morning.
Off-Leash Dog Walking Zones:
• Cannonvale Beach (Eastern end) from 5am-8pm daily (except from 8am-9am and 2.30pm-3.30pm on school days).
• Shingley Beach (Eastern End Only), Airlie Beach
• Queens Beach, Bowen
• Doughty Creek Mouth, Bowen
• Kings Beach, Bowen
• Denison Park, Bowen
• Bicentennial Park, Cannonvale
• Galbraith Park, Cannonvale
• Whisper Bay Boat Ramp, Cannonvale
• Wildlife Park, Jubilee Pocket
• Keith Johns Estate Park, Proserpine
• Hydeaway Bay
The group of dog-owners are thrilled about Council’s decision to allow a three-month trial of a leash-free zone at Boathaven Beach. Photo credit: Rachael Smith