Request to change Port Stephens dinghy storage policy could open a can of kayaks

KAYAKS ANYONE? Cr Steve Tucker at the empty dinghy rack in Peace Park, Tanilba Bay. He wants kayaks and canoes to be legally stored on the dinghy racks.
KAYAKS ANYONE? Cr Steve Tucker at the empty dinghy rack in Peace Park, Tanilba Bay. He wants kayaks and canoes to be legally stored on the dinghy racks.

A simple request from a Nelson Bay resident to have kayaks and canoes legally stored on the seldom-used Dutchies Beach dinghy storage rack may have opened a can of worms for Port Stephens Council.

Last month keen kayakers John and Lindy Corrie contacted the Examiner after having approached east ward councillors John Nell and Glen Dunkley, suggesting a change in the council dinghy storage policy.

"I'd suggest it's time that council awoke to the needs of micro craft users and allowed kayaks and canoes to be stored on their dinghy-only racks," Mr Corrie wrote in his letter.

The common-sense request brought an immediate response from Cr John Nell, who conceded that the use of dinghies at Dutchies beach had drastically decreased in recent years.

He moved a notice of motion at the November 10 meeting that council "considers amending the Foreshore Dinghy Storage Policy to allow kayaks and canoes to be registered and stored on council managed foreshore reserves".

Cr Nell's motion sought to retain the $100 annual registration fee.

This prompted central ward's Steve Tucker to have the policy extended to include at least three dinghy racks on the Tilligerry peninsula, which, like Dutchies, are seldom used by dinghy owners.

The councillors agreed to include kayaks and canoes for the dinghy racks at Tanilba Park, Foster Park and Peace Park, Tanilba Bay.

"Of the three dinghy racks along the foreshore, two are usually empty and one is reasonably used so I feel it would be reasonable to include them in the notice of motion."

Cr Tucker said that he was also concerned about council's public liability and risk to personal injury on the chance that someone was injured by one of the craft.

The debate had some councillors concerned about opening a can of worms. There are believed to be approximately 80 storage racks across the Port Stephens local government area.

A council spokesperson said that the amended policy, listing the four racks at Dtuchies beach and the Tanilba foreshore, would go back to the council in the New Year for endorsement to go on public exhibition. No date has been set for the exhibition period at this stage.

The council's current Foreshore Dinghy Storage Policy prohibits kayaks and canoes in order "to reduce clutter on public foreshores as a lot of people own kayaks and also as kayaks are relatively easy (compared to dinghies) to transport and store off site".

"The policy was initiated due to the high number of dinghies and other water vessels being stored on foreshore reserves ... which was limiting the ability for residents and visitors to access the Port's waterways."