The long discussed and delayed motion to eliminate the ‘walk of shame’ and create a larger dog on-leash area near the Lennox Surf Club has finally made its way through Ballina Council, with new signage expected at Christmas.
Local dog-lover Jan Derricott spoke at the meeting, representing ‘more than 1,000 residents of Lennox’ wanting to expand the on-leash area in the parklands adjacent to the kiosk as per option 2, below.
Ms Derricott said it was ‘music to her ears’ to read Ballina Council’s brochure on responsible pet ownership, which states that pets are much-loved family members.
She thanked the council for its Companion Animal Management Plan and said that during COVID the dog friendly section of Seven Mile Beach had allowed dog owners to reduce social isolation and also get exercise, with the kiosk providing an important hub for social interaction.
Ms Derricott read official dog attack statistics (including displays of aggression) with 95 across Ballina Shire over the last 12 months but only two at Seven Mile Beach and one at the surf club.
‘Does council truly want to jeopardise the tourist dollar?’ she asked. ‘Lennox has been known as a dog friendly, visitor friendly town.
‘The current forest of signs around the surf club is extremely confusing, especially for newcomers, who can’t figure out how to access the dog beach,’ she said.
Walk of shame
Ms Derricott suggested that the current ‘walk of shame’ is not COVID-safe, and ‘does not consider the fundamentals of dog behaviour. It is an eyesore and if such a word exists, a nose sore.
‘Nippers are on 10-12 days per year. Dog owners walk their dogs every day of the year.
‘There is massive community support, as evidenced by the petition with more than 1,000 signatures, and numerous submissions to council.
‘I am happy to be the Dog Poo Marshal, and would even don a Dog Poo Fairy outfit to assist with public education, if that’s what it takes,’ she said.
Crs Ben Smith and Sharon Cadwallader spoke in support of option 2. Cr Smith said, ‘Option 2 clarifies everything and makes it easier to enforce and manage. There’s no need to wait and defer again. It’s practical and simple, very easy to do, let’s just do it.’
New signs by Christmas?
Cr Eoin Johnston asked staff if it would be possible to remove the walk of shame and get the new signage in before Christmas. Staff said it would be difficult but not impossible, depending on the weather.
General Manager Paul Hickey said, ‘We’ll try to get all that done before Christmas, that’s our commitment, we’ve heard the feedback and our obligation is to implement that resolution asap, so that’s what we’ll do.’
Cr Cadwallader thanked Ms Derricott for her deputation and offers to help with community education, noting that there would be even more pressure on Lennox across the Christmas break with Byron Bay having lost its beach.
Cr Keith Williams, who brought the original motion in August 2020, said, ‘People have been waiting for a resolution on this matter, the petition was collected back in July.
‘I think we can do this quickly and the sooner the better to help us assess how it operates,’ he said.
Mayor changes his mind
Mayor David Wright, who blocked option 2 last time round, said ‘I’ll go along with this, I would have gone with the recommendation just to do it for the end of January.’
He said there were too many dogs around the surf club though, and in the longer term something would have to be done.
‘I know the executive of the surf club and executive of Nippers definitely don’t want dogs there, because they’re afraid of what might happen. But I’m not going to win today.
‘Let’s hope we can get through the Xmas period without any major incidents.’
Cr Jeff Johnson said he would support the motion, with the main issue being the signage.
‘The No Dogs signs near the cafe there seem to indicate that whole area is no dogs, which has caused a lot of angst around this issue,’ said Cr Johnson.
‘When you have confusing signs, and people with dogs seeing other people ignoring signs we just get dogs everywhere.
‘Hopefully we can get something sorted before the Christmas rush, because the current signage is part of the problem,’ he said.
All councillors voted in favour of the new option 2 arrangement except Cr Sharon Parry.