Victoria council voted to extend an off-leash pilot project at three local parks. They’ve also opted to shift the off-leash hours later by 30 minutes. Flickr

Victoria council voted to extend an off-leash pilot project at three local parks. They’ve also opted to shift the off-leash hours later by 30 minutes. Flickr

City to extend dog off leash pilot in three Victoria parks

Off-leash hours at Fisherman’s Wharf, Barnard and Oaklands parks move to 7 to 9 a.m.

Victoria council has voted to extend a pilot project allowing dogs off leash in three City parks, while shifting the hours the rule is in effect.

In 2017, Fisherman’s Wharf Park, Oaklands Park and Barnard Park were made part of a year-long pilot with limited off-leash hours, from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., seven days per week. Since the project began, according to staff, the City has received 52 emails and 68 complaints to Animal Control related to the parks.

Emails mostly requested extended hours or larger areas. One contained a 64-signature petition supporting the project at Fisherman’s Wharf. The complaints mostly referred to early morning noise such as barking dogs or owners calling their pets; dogs who were not under control of their owners, or pets being off leash during on-leash hours.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said shifting the hours to slightly later might help with noise complaints and additional problems.

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“With an early start, a dog off leash is a little harder to pick up after, before sunrise hours,” Thornton-Joe added.

Council ultimately voted to shift the hours to 7 to 9 a.m. Asked whether the times should shift during winter hours to accommodate later daylight, Thomas Soulliere, director of parks, recreation and facilities, was firm.

“For the sake of clarity to the public, a consistent time frame is necessary,” he said. “We have the same time-frame in other parks, and haven’t heard negative feedback from them.”

Council also approved extending the pilot for two more years. In 2020, the City will look at a broader set of rules for off-leash dog parks across the City.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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