Wollongong council unleashes new dog beach and park policy

File picture. Yorkshire terrier Lucey with Amber Kelly.

File picture. Yorkshire terrier Lucey with Amber Kelly.

Bellambi boat harbour will no longer be dog-friendly but West Dapto will gain a new off-leash park under proposed changes to Wollongong City Council's controversial dogs on beaches and parks policy.

Council staff have put forward a number of suggested updates to the policy, which uses a "traffic light" system to control dog access to beaches.

Green means dogs are allowed to roam free, orange means they are allowed off-leash at certain times and red means they are banned.

                                 Councillor Chris Connor

Councillor Chris Connor

The policy, established in 2010, is being reviewed at the request of councillors, who voted to revise it last October amid concerns over the safety of other beachgoers.

Labor councillor Chris Connor suggested there was scope for a full ban on dog off-leash areas in Wollongong, while the majority of councillors supported stricter enforcement and better education campaigns.

In a report to next week's meeting, staff have urged the council keep all off-leash parks, which are "operating well with minimal issues", and designate a new off-leash area to cater for West Dapto's growing population.

They said there had been 58 complaints about dogs on beaches since July 2012, with most recent complaints focusing on off-leash areas in the northern suburbs.

Under the recommendations, the dog zones on all beaches would remain the same except the area between Sharkeys Beach and the Headlands boat ramp in Coledale, which would be changed from orange to red, and the Bellambi boat harbour, which would be changed from green to red.

The off-leash zone at Sharkeys is also being reconsidered.

"This beach remains an unflagged and unpatrolled beach," the report says. "It has its own car park and although rocks under the water make it less suitable for swimming, it remains highly used by owners exercising their dogs."

Staff have also recommended improved signage at Stanwell Park, Sharkeys, Little Austinmer, McCauleys, East Corrimal, MM, Port Kembla and Windang beaches, and better use of colour-coded paint on timber fences near beaches.

Councillors are due to vote at Monday night's meeting whether to place the proposed changes on public exhibition.