City of Bayswater to ban cats from more than 40 natural areas as well as public places under new local law

The City of Bayswater has garnered support mostly from people who don’t own a cat for its latest crackdown on felines.

More than 542 submissions were received during a public comment period in April on a new local law that bans cats from 42 of Bayswater’s natural areas and any public place unless they’re under “effective control”.

Councilors agreed at a meeting last week to gazette the new local law which will be publicly advertised and considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation.

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But according to a city report, some local governments had tried and failed to include similar conditions such as restricting cats from being in a public place and were told to remove the clause.

Nora Hughes Wetland
Camera IconNora Hughes Wetland Credits: Victoria Rifici

Community support for the new local law during public consultation was high, with 72.9 per cent of people happy with the move. Most of that support — exactly 90 per cent — came from people who were not cat owners.

Those in support of the move wanted the new local law introduced to protect wildlife and cats and believed the same rules should apply for cats as for dogs.

Some people said the new law was not strict enough, the fines were too low, it would be difficult to stop cats from roaming around and they helped keep the local rodent population in check.

Some submitters suggested cat owners should be given help to comply with the new local law with an adequate grace period to fit cat enclosures, possible exemptions for current licensed cat owners, no fines for a first offense and assistance to build or buy a cat enclosure.

Riverside Gardens
Camera IconRiverside Gardens Credits: Victoria Rifici

Councilors agreed at a meeting in April to repeal the city’s existing Keeping and Control of Cats Local Law 2016 — which does not include any cat-prohibited sites — and to set the new local law in place.

A total of 42 natural areas, including Browns Lake Reserve, Gobba Lake, Riverside Gardens and Nora Hughes wetlands, are no-go zones for cats under the new local law.

City staff said the move would demonstrate its commitment to protect flora and fauna.

Gobba Lake
Camera IconGobba Lake Credits: Victoria Rifici

Under the new local law, each prohibited site will be categorized by level of “environmental sensitivity” and a schedule will be developed to ensure more regular cat trapping at the most sensitive sites.

If a cat is found in one of the listed prohibit sites, its owner could be fined $250 fine and an authorized person could seize and impound the cat.

A cat found in a public place and not under effective control will also leave its owner with a $250 fine and the feline may be devoted and impounded as a result under the draft local law.

Browns Lake Reserve
Camera IconBrowns Lake Reserve Credits: Victoria Rifici

Many of the submitters were concerned that enforcement of the new local law would be difficult and it might discriminate against cat owners in small dwellings or those who lived in strata arrangements and could not install cat enclosures.

According to a city report, rangers and the security branch were working on a strategy to address some of these enforcement issues.

“The strategy would include the roll-out of a detailed information and awareness program,” it said.

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