Dogs off-leash in Waverley

9 December 2020

Waverley Council will investigate the opportunity to provide a new off-leash dog area with water play at a suitable location to address the shortage of off-leash areas in the Bondi basin.

This comes after the Strategic Planning and Development Committee last month voted to maintain the dog prohibition at Mackenzies Bay, Tamarama.

The decision was based on Council reports which found Mackenzies Bay was an unsuitable location for an off-leash dog area due to the potentially significant impacts on the environment and safety, as well as feedback received during community consultation held in August and September on a potential timed off-leash dog trial at Mackenzies Bay.

Council agreed that maintaining the dog prohibition at Mackenzies Bay is the recommended option for a number of reasons including:

  • The area is not accessible for people who are less mobile
  • Mackenzies Bay comprises a fragile environment. It contains remnant vegetation and is an important resting and nesting spot for coastal birds.
  • It is also located in the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Bondi Intertidal Protected Area where seashore animals benefit from a special type of protection
  • As outlined in the Coastal Risk and Safety Signage Report, Mackenzies Bay is a hazardous location due to the presence of large and slippery rocks (some submerged), strong currents, strong waves, and is unsupervised
  • Dogs are currently negatively impact the environment despite being prohibited
  • There existing accounts of conflict between dog owners, dogs and other users despite the current prohibition.

In February 2020, community members presented Council with a petition calling for Mackenzies Bay to be made an official off-leash dog area. This was debated in a Council meeting and led to a Council resolution on 18 February 2020 to investigate the suitability of Mackenzies Bay as a potential off-leash dog area.

A report on the matter was presented to Council on 2 June 2020 and found that Mackenzies Bay was an unsuitable location for an off-leash dog area due to the potentially significant impacts on the Intertidal Protect Area, local flora and fauna, and on other users, safety risks due to the presence of rocks and hazardous surf, and due to accessibility issues and site constraints.The report recommended that Council maintain the off-leash dog prohibition and that this be enforced.

Following the presentation of the 2 June report, Council moved to undertake community consultation to assess interest in a timed off-leash dog trial for Mackenzies Bay based on findings from the 2 June report and on consultation outcomes. Last month's decision was informed by feedback received during community consultation, environmental factors, and safety considerations.

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, said that while Council supported the recommendation to maintain and enforce the dog prohibition at Mackenzies Bay as it is not a suitable location for off-leash dogs, Council had clearly heard the community’s call for more off-leash dog areas.

“Waverley’s draft Open Space and Recreation Strategy identifies benefits of pet ownership to people’s health and wellbeing and has identified a shortfall of off-leash areas in the Bondi Basin north of Mackenzies Bay. This explains why most people who provided feedback during consultation supported the trial, and most were supportive because they said there was an under-provision of off-leash areas,” Mayor Masselos said.

“However, 17% of respondents (88 people) were opposed to a trial due to environmental impacts, user conflict, and concerns regarding enforcement. These are matters which Council cannot simply ignore.

“While Mackenzies Bay is unsuitable for an off-leash area, Council will continue investigating options to provide more off-leash facilities in appropriate locations. At the 10 November Strategic Planning and Development meeting, Council decided that, rather than limit investigations for a dog off leash and water play to Barracluff Park, and in keeping with our commitment, there should be a broader investigation across the municipality into which park would be the most suitable location for dogs off leash and water play.

“In the meantime, we encourage dog owners to continue enjoying our nine existing off-leash dog areas in Waverley Local Government Area, including Marks Park and Bronte Park which respectively are only 350 metres and 750 metres away from Mackenzies Bay."


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