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Holiday parks extend paw to visitors

Geoff Helisma |

Following almost five years of planning, trials and community consultation, Clarence Valley Council’s holiday parks at Iluka, Minnie Water, Yamba and Wooli are now dog friendly.

However, the policy changes were not extended to the Brooms Head Holiday Park.

Staff advised in their report to councillors at the April 23 CVC meeting that they had “predicted … a lot of interest in Brooms Head due to the disproportionate number of complaints and issues that resulted from their dog trial”.

“There has been vandalism to guests’ property, a physical altercation and numerous complaints from members of the local community,” the report stated.

“Many of the issues arise from the current location of the dog area, which is relatively close to neighbouring residential properties, and the distance from the office restricting oversight and enforcement of park rules.”

Councillors did not debate the item; however, they made an amendment that removed the option of “relocating the current dog area at Brooms Head Holiday Park on a trial basis, to near the park manager’s residence”, which councillors Arthur Lysaught and Richie Williamson did not support.

Councillor Karen Toms declared an interest and left the chamber.

Councillors were unanimous in their support of the final motion.

A 144-signature petition against allowing dogs at Brooms Head was submitted during the consultation period.

“It stated that the current policy wasn’t working,” the report to council advised, “resulting in ‘a huge impact on the local residents and holiday tenants’ quality of life, with dogs barking, unrestrained dogs and cats and the risk of disease from faeces and urine which is rarely cleaned up by pet owners’.

Five hundred and forty-eight people responded to a survey on CVC’s Clarence Conversations website.

One hundred and one written submissions were lodged, too.

Overall, 400 (62%) answered ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Do you think the Clarence Coast Holiday Parks should be dog friendly?’

Two hundred and eight (32%) voted ‘no’ and 41 (6%) answered ‘maybe’.

Cats were excluded, with 46 per cent for and 54 per cent against their inclusion – the report advised councillors to stick with the existing policy.

In specific terms, councillors supported the following changes to CVC’s Dog’s in Clarence Coast holiday parks policy: that dogs be permitted in shoulder/school holidays at park manager’s discretion; that dogs be permitted in some designated cabin accommodation and facilities; that a maximum of 1 dog be permitted per site (not including assistance animals, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992); a maximum length for leads is 2 metres and no runs or retractable leads are permitted; include that dogs must not be left alone or unattended within the park at any time; and, for substantiated complaints, a greater emphasis for the park manager to direct immediate removal of the dogs rather than ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

Staff advised councillors that, according to the Caravan and Camping Industry Association, “the pet industry is a big growth industry in Australia, with 62 per cent of the population being dog owners and currently spending $520million on pet sitters or boarding kennels”.

Staff also advised that “allowing guests to bring their dogs

[during the trial]

has clearly resulted in an increase in occupancy and revenue for the parks with sites in the designated dog areas”.