Sunshine Coast Council has voted to ban dogs from sections of Point Cartwright, including the north-facing beach and the rocky foreshore to preserve the environmental and cultural significance of the area for future generations. The decision has upset local dog walkers, including the group “La Balsa Bow Wows”, who branded the move “extremely disappointing”.
At present, dogs are allowed on the beach off the lead between the hours of 4pm and 8am, but that’s all about to change. Council’s new master plan also recommends amending dog access within the Point Cartwright Reserve to on-leash only, at all times, and in appropriate areas. The current extent of off-leash area is unchanged on the eastern beach. La Balsa Park is already a dog on-leash area only.
Dogs posing major ‘environmental threat’
The ban comes in response to an environmental threat posed by the animals, with one local councillor claiming the dogs’ impact on the sandy strip “could not be ignored”.
Councillor Joe Natoli said the reserve was a “vital stopover” for endangered migratory shorebirds, and dogs are standing in the way of their natural journey, according to the ABC.
“The easy decision for us is to do nothing, but that’s not what we were elected to do,” Mr Natoli said.
“I want to leave a legacy for our children in the next 50 years so that they can go there and enjoy what we enjoy today. I want to give the shorebirds a chance of survival.”
Another local resident Debbie Crotty said the area could no longer take the extreme “high-level” of visitors.
“We elect councillors who look at the big picture, who look at the facts, who look at the future,” Ms Crotty said. “That’s what we elect councillors to do — not to go with popularity votes. I think our council has been brave.”
Mixed response from community
But the La Balsa Bow Wows have vowed to fight until the end to reverse the decision.
“It’s just beggars belief that they would do something like this,” one dog walker told A Current Affair.
“This is the one thing I love more than anything on this coast and they’re taking it away from me,” another said.
These passionate dog walkers are opposed by a group of other locals who aren’t so happy with pups on the beach, sparking complaints to the council.
Unless the ban is overturned, dogs will now only be allowed on a lead on the Mooloolah River side of the reserve, where they are currently permitted to be off-leash.
“Following extensive community engagement over the past two years, Council adopted the Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park Master Plan at the Ordinary Meeting August 24, 2023,” a Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said.
“With regard to the animal access element, the master plan is not currently enforced. Any changes to dog off-leash and prohibited areas requires an amendment to Council’s Local Laws.
“Subject to Council agreeing to commence the local law amendment process, our community will be able to provide feedback on the proposed changes to animal access in a separate local law community engagement process.”
Roughly 5000 people have signed a petition in favour of keeping the off-leash area.
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