Taroona fires up over pets
Community group fights plan to make area an off-leash zone
A NEW off-leash dog walking area on Taroona Beach has raised the hackles of some residents who believe the ban on pets should remain in place. They say the change poses a risk to the elderly and children.
A COMMUNITY is fighting to keep an idyllic Hobart beach free of dogs, to protect water quality and safety for swimmers.
Taroona Beach’s status as a dog-free zone is set to be overturned, with a section east of the boat ramp to become an off-leash dog zone.
But community group Safe Beaches Taroona wants to keep the beach free of dogs to protect threatened species, children and the elderly.
It is also concerned dog droppings will jeopardise water quality across the beach, which is popular among swimmers and snorkellers.
Taroona Beach has been a traditional no-go zone for dogs, but a Kingborough Council meeting in September supported an amendment to dog laws to create a new offleash dog area east of the boat ramp.
Taroona resident Nel Smit, a member of Safe Beaches Taroona, said the narrow beach was adjacent to a playground, fitness area and nature trail.
“We want Taroona families to be able to continue to enjoy Taroona Beach, which is easily accessible by the elderly, disabled, parents with prams, toddlers and where people come together, for public recreation in a safe relaxed environment,” she said.
She said council had offered no protection to young families using the playground or cooking at the nearby barbecue area.
Taroona resident Malcolm Mars, another member of the group, said he was concerned about threatened species that lived in bush next to the beach.
“As a long-standing Taroona resident, I think we should appreciate how lucky we are to have such amazing bird and wildlife around the Taroona foreshore for all of us to enjoy safely and in peace,” he said.
Another group member, Hobart GP Juliet Lavers, said the area provided the only safe access for the elderly and young families to swim at Taroona Beach.
Dr Lavers said dogs also posed a health risk, especially through faeces left in the water.
“Most dog owners are responsible and clean up after their dogs, but some don’t and it only takes a few to pollute an area.”
The changes to Taroona Beach follow a new dog policy endorsed at a meeting of Kingborough Council last month, when Councillor Dean Winter moved an amendment to create an additional off-leash dog area at the eastern end of Ta- roona Beach. Kingborough general manager Gary Arnold said the council was now advertising its intent to enact the new dog zones in accordance with the provisions of the Dog Control Act, and submissions about the changes could be sent to the council by November 2.
“The new council will consider the submission at a future meeting and the final list of declared areas will then be confirmed and publicly advertised,” Mr Arnold said.
The dog management policy would come into effect once the process was complete, he said.
Cr Winter, who is running for mayor, said balance on the issue was important.
“I don’t think it is balanced or reasonable to ban dogs from every beach in Taroona, as was proposed by one local group,” Cr Winter said.
“The new off-lead area is only a very small portion of Taroona’s beaches and strikes the right balance in allowing the community to enjoy the coastline with or without dogs.”
Kingborough Dog Walking Association president Georgia Clark said the proposed offleash dog area was only a third of Taroona Beach.
“There are five beaches in Taroona and up until now none of them have been offlead for dogs,” she said.
But about 40 per cent of households in Kingborough have at least one dog, she said.
“Just a third of one beach in Taroona is a fair outcome.”
Derwent Estuary Program chief executive Ursula Taylor said dog faeces could contaminate waterways, but dogs were only one part of a complex issue.
“We certainly encourage dog walkers to be responsible for cleaning up after their pet, that’s a small thing an individual can do.’’
BATTLE: Malcolm Mars, left, and Nel Smit are upset at new dog-walking areas on Taroona Beach.