Dogs win Kiama's beachside paw war

Ian Hornsby with Angel and councillor Mark Way with Kong at the southern end of Jones Beach, which will become an off-leash area in a trial from October 1. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Ian Hornsby with Angel and councillor Mark Way with Kong at the southern end of Jones Beach, which will become an off-leash area in a trial from October 1. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Kiama's dog owners are celebrating another victory after Kiama Municipal Council resolved to allow a dog off-leash swimming area at the southern end of Jones Beach, four years after a similar plan was rejected.

Kiama councillors voted 7-2 on Tuesday night to approve the off-leash area, despite concerns over the access point and car park being close to a children's playground and the fact the council already has eight coastal off-leash areas.

Six of these are headland areas, and two are time-restricted swimming areas at Bombo Beach and Werri Beach, with dogs allowed off leash between sunrise and sunset.

The same time restrictions will apply to the Jones Beach area when the trial starts on October 1 and ends on May 31, 2015.

Kiama councillor Mark Way said the southern end of Jones Beach was hardly used and was perfect for an off-leash area.

"Nothing changes with the playground as that is still part of an on-leash area and access to the beach is 60 metres south of that," he said.

Cr Way said Kiama Downs was home to a high proportion of responsible dog owners, many who were unable or didn't want to drive to off-leash areas at Bombo and Werri Beach.

However, Cr Andrew Sloan said the car park where dogs would be let out of the car was right next to the playground.

"You just never know ... there is an outside chance there could be an incident in the playground and rangers are concerned about this," Cr Sloan said.

"A lot of people won't be comfortable using the southern end of the beach."

Cr Mark Honey also expressed concern for small children using the playground and said "dogs can't read" and once off-leash they would run beyond designated areas.

Approval of the off-leash area at Kiama Downs follows the recent approval of an "on-leash" swimming area in the Minnamurra River, despite opposition from government agencies about potential environmental impacts and council staff who said it "would not be an appropriate activity for a highly popular family and tourist destination".

The Minnamurra River trial starts on September 1, in an area off Trevethan Reserve between the two bridges.

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