Port Stephens Council set to review off leash dog areas

A Birubi Beach sign.
A Birubi Beach sign.

The off-leash dog areas at Anna Bay/Birubi Point, Fisherman's Bay and Boat Harbour will come under review from Port Stephens Council.

Councillors agreed at the July 14 meeting to initiate the review six years after the last report had established a network of permitted and prohibited areas in and around Anna Bay.

While the benefits of the on and off-leash dog areas will dominate the review, the bigger issue, according to east ward's John Nell, is the irresponsible dog owners across the entire local government area.

"My problem is with those dog owners who use their doggy bags and then toss them into the bush, on the beach, in people's front yards, alongside the footpath. Between my place and Bagnalls over a 12 month period I can pick up around 60 bags. It's an absolute con job," he told the council.

The most contentious of all sites is expected to be Birubi Beach, where dogs are presently permitted on and off the leash in certain sections of the beach and Stockton dunes, and which differ at different times of the day. The council signs have been described by some dog owners and councillors as "confusing".

The last time that planned changes and time restrictions came under the spotlight in 2014, Port councillors were met with strong support to retain dog walking on the beach.

"In recent times the council has also undertaken locality-based assessments in Soldiers Point and Raymond Terrace to identify suitable sites for fenced off dog lead areas," the council report stated.

"The process for this review would follow a similar methodology. The proven benefits of owning a pet and regular exercise is creating unprecedented demand for off lead areas and a response is needed by the council to ensure the needs of local dog owners are addressed.

"In addition to this demand, the recent upgrade of Robinson Reserve at Anna Bay and the planned Tomaree Coastal Walk are expected to bring additional visitors to the area. These works will result in increased pedestrian and dog traffic along coastal routes, changing the way that people use council's coastal reserves.

"A review of dog exercise areas in Anna Bay, Boat Harbour and Fisherman's Bay will ensure the council responds to shifting demand appropriately."

The review is expected to commence from September 2020.