SURF lifesavers have called for dramatic improvements to parking on Warrnambool’s Pertobe Road, warning that lives could be lost unless more swimmers can park closer to the patrolled beach.
Relocation of the annual foreshore carnival and a clampdown on vehicles clogging up bays outside the surf club rooms have been suggested as key options for the city council to consider.
When thousands flocked to Lady Bay beach during periods of prolonged hot weather last summer, vehicles were parked right along the foreshore route between the railway bridge and the breakwater. A substantial area near the beach section patrolled by lifesavers was occupied by carnival equipment and associated vehicles as they have done for decades.
However, Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club president Michael Owen and his committee argues this space should be considered for general parking.
“If people can’t find park spaces closer to the beach they tend to swim away from patrolled areas,” he said.
“Some tend to lap till they find somewhere and this causes a traffic build-up.
“It is so bad sometimes rescue vehicles can’t get past.
“We saw the problems with the Stingray Bay drownings in 2005 and the kiosk fire last summer when fire trucks had difficulty getting through.
“The options we put forward for discussion was finding an alternate side for the carnival equipment and developing the small car park at the surf club entrance.”
Operators of Simon’s Waterfront restaurant above the surf club, Simon and Rose Kettyle, supported the push for a major review of parking.
“There has to be change,” they said.
“Safety must be paramount. If people can’t park close to the main patrolled beach, lives are at risk.
“The summer foreshore carnival and overflow vehicles from the caravan park have a detrimental effect on our business.
“Friday markets are also affected because patrons have difficulty finding parking spots.”
The issue was raised during post-summer discussions between foreshore operators, council tourism services manager Peter Abbott and local laws manager Ian Fitzgibbon.
“Relocation of the carnival to create a car parking area was raised by the club, but no decisions have been made about whether the carnival would be relocated, “ Mr Fitzgibbon told The Standard.
“We’re certainly interested in having more people swim within the patrolled beach area and are open to discussions about how to best achieve this.”