A PUSH by Cockburn council to allow dogs on a grassed reserve at Coogee Beach has infuriated locals, who saw off a similar push almost exactly one year ago.
Last year the council consulted locals to gauge support for allowing dogs to roam free along the beach.
Ron Blake and a small army of beach lovers collected 450 signatures opposing the idea — four times as many as those in favour. The council backed off and locals thought that was the end of it.
But last month Kevin Allen — a Cockburn councillor and dog owner, who lives a short walk from the beach — moved to initiate a change to council bylaws, which would allow dogs on the grassed area and car park next to the Coogee Beach Cafe.
The motion was approved unanimously on April 14 and the amendment is now out for public comment before being ratified. Mr Blake is incredulous.
He says it’s underhanded for the council to push through the item during school holidays, particularly given the change will go through unless there’s a public outcry.
“Once they’re allowed on that area, who’s going to police it when they start to go onto the grassed area near the kids’ swings, or onto the beach?” he asks.
“People will start getting used to them being there, and before you know it they’ll be thinking they’re allowed on the beach.”
Fuelling Mr Blake’s concerns, the agenda item was such a dog’s breakfast that Cr Lyndsay Sweetman apologised to the public, saying it was “embarrassing”.
A map showed just half the beach reserve and the accompanying text would have inadvertently allowed dogs on all the picnic areas.
Cr Sweetman says it caused a lot of unnecessary confusion; she was surprised when the Chook told her that according to the proposal, dogs would be allowed on the jetty.
Cr Carol Reeve-Fowkes was also unaware the changes would allow dogs onto the grassed picnic area behind the cafe. She said her understanding was it only involved the car park. She vowed to investigate.
Cr Reeve-Fowkes said she’d be guided by public opinion, adding last year’s 450-strong petition was at the forefront of her mind.
Mr Blake says he’ll be at the beach on weekend mornings, unhappily having to collect another bunch of signatures.
by STEVE GRANT