Back in 2014 a Sharing Shorelines group was set up by Councillor Victoria Newton. This group comprised and consulted with a wide range of foreshore users including dog owners and the Queensland Wader Study Group, along with other local residents. This group was established following a petition calling for a dog off leash beach.
The results of this work and a survey of 490 people with 345 in favour of a dog off leash area and 145 against.
A submission was made to Council calling for the creation of two zones, one from Cabbage Tree Creek to 12th Ave and the other from 12th Ave to Brighton Park. The area to be considered for dogs off leash would be the zone from 12th Ave to Brighton Park.
The proposal also stipulated that dog owners would have to obey the same rules as any other off leash area (keeping a dog under control, not being a nuisance, droppings disposed of and the dog to be registered). It also explicitly stated that dog owners must ensure that their dogs not disturb birds, other animals or people.
Following this submission to Council, a smaller petition against the proposal was started and the outcome of that was for Council to reject the proposal in late 2015.
Since this time I have consulted with the Queensland Wader Study Group, Council Officers and neighbouring Councils along with local residents. I surveyed residents on the refining of the area to just the area in front of Brighton Park. This was supported by a large majority of respondents.
I have discussed this issue at length with both Council Officers and Councillor David McLachlan, Chair of Council’s Parks Committee. The consensus has been the need for a set of guidelines from the State Government to ensure the viability of a trial.
Guidelines are needed because while Council has a very keen interest, we are not the only stakeholders, the area is within a State Marine Park and is covered by a Federal Agreement (RAMSAR). Ultimately a trial (and then ongoing use) would need to be approved by the State Government.
Over the next six months or so Council will be working with the State Government, Birds Queensland and the Wader Study Group about possible locations that could be included in a trial. The considerations will be based on locations that do not disturb roosting or feeding wader birds. Shorncliffe, Sandgate and Brighton will be considered – but I believe there will only be one trial site (not the entire foreshore area as suggested in some reporting).
While there is some data on roosting sites at high tide, more work needs to be done on feeding areas at low tide – this will occur with the Wader Bird Study Group over the next few months as part of the process.
I believe we can find a location where people can take their dogs, while protecting the internationally important wader birds.
I’ll keep you updated throughout this process.