BASS Coast dog restrictions have residents and tourists scratching their heads.
Time restrictions differ at every beach in Bass Coast, leaving dog walkers struggling to remember where they are permitted to walk.
Currently, Inverloch dog owners are not permitted on certain sections of the beach between 9am and 6pm from December 1 until February 28, and are forced to come on and off the foreshore at different beach entrances.
They have tried to be vigilant and abide by the rules, but were frustrated by holidaymakers walking in the wrong sections of beach during the peak holiday period.
“Some tourists take no notice of the local law and it becomes chaotic when so many families want to enjoy the beach,” Inverloch resident Margaret Sartorio said.
“I was shocked to see dogs off leash near the Esplanade. We are doing our utmost to ensure there is no tension and back lash from (Bass Coast Shire) council but it’s the visitors who make it challenging for us.”
However, council claimed all dog walkers were well behaved during the peak season.
“During December and January, council conducted beach patrols in Inverloch on 10 days separate days. These patrols were completed at different times during the day and included patrols of all main beach areas in Inverloch,” council’s general manager healthy communities David Elder said.
“Dog owner behaviour was very good. We did not observe dogs in the wrong section of beach and no fines were issued during this period.”
Though residents said they clashed with wrongdoers, they do not blame tourists for their mistakes but rather inadequate signs.
“What we have is awkward and difficult to understand,” Ms Sartorio said.
“It’s not the visitors’ fault; the signs are small and easily missed. It’s not a tidy arrangement.”
Mayor Cr Jordan Crugnale said there was room for improvement.
“I recognise current signs are not visible from the shoreline, and street name delineation of zones doesn’t mean much when you are on the water’s edge, however the emergency numbers markers could be a logical boundary marker,” she said.
Inverloch resident Sharon Ashby suggested council create a booklet to be distributed to such outlets as information centres, caravan parks and real estate agents.
“They have booklets like these in Tathra, New South Wales. The booklets are clearly mapped, available all year round and everyone knows where you are allowed to walk your dog,” Ms Ashby said.
“When I was in Tathra, I didn’t see a single dog in the wrong section of the beach.”
Cr Crugnale said producing a booklet could be a useful solution.
“We have some very articulate and talented thinkers and graphics people in and around our town who could work with local groups and organisations. It could be series of brochures on various topics of interest to form a ‘town welcome pack’,” she said.
A petition was launched by Inverloch residents to have their time restrictions reduced and their designated walking area remapped.
Their one off leash area is just off the Esplanade through to Cuttriss Street, which is too far and too difficult to walk to for elderly and disabled residents, they say.
“Our demands are simple. We want two off leash areas and our time restrictions to be reduced to December 15 through to January 30,” Ms Sartorio said.
Cr Crugnale said council would consider the petition and alternative options.
“If anyone can suggest a logical and equitable long term solution that will work year in and year out within the constraints of an ever changing coastline, I am listening,” she said.
“To change designated areas every year or every few years only presents confusion, frustration and cost.”
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