Dogs will now be permitted off leash and supervised in the equestrian centre at the Barwon Heads Village Park when there are no horses present.
The amended dog controls were agreed upon by Council at last night’s meeting in response to results from recent community engagement.
Out of 304 responses received from the community during the engagement process, 82% of respondents said they supported an increase off-leash spaces in the park.
The equestrian centre within the park was the most common space where respondents wanted dogs to be allowed off-leash.
Community members were able to participate in the survey online as well as in-person, with City officers visiting Barwon Heads Village Park throughout January.
A Change.org petition to allow dogs off-leash within the equestrian grounds also had 485 signatures by 31 January 2021.
As part of the engagement process the City had directly communicated with the Barwon Heads & District Pony Club to determine the potential impacts of changed dog controls on their use of the site.
It was found that the impact would be minimal for the club, who typically use the pavilion and grounds within the park once a month. Dogs are required to be on leash when horses are present at the site.
Given the overwhelming support for the amendment, Councillors agreed to authorise the necessary amendment of the City’s Dog Controls in Public Places Policy.
City of Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said it was a pleasing result for the Barwon Heads community.
This is a great example of Council listening to the community, and after careful consultation and consideration, we are able to make changes to better meet local needs.
There is clearly a need for people living on the southern Bellarine to be able to exercise their dogs during the day in off-leash areas.
In addition to this issue, which was a result of a decision that suited the Lara community and equestrian club, we are hearing from a lot of people about the restrictive dog orders on the beaches, which have had a big impact on the regular dog walking community.