The Capital Regional District’s parks committee will take another look at providing a “dog-under-command” option for the Galloping Goose Trail from Kilometre 49 to the CRD Watershed, near the Sooke Potholes.
New rules took effect last December and requires dogs to be on-leash always in 11 regional parks, five in the Sooke Region.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait asked the committee to take a look at the issue again because many Sooke residents have complained enforcement of the leash-only policy is heavy handed.
“Right now in the early morning we have many residents walk the trail with their dog off-leash and then come back to the parking lot and met by a CRD enforcement officer and given a ticket. That’s the only people they encounter on the trail time and time again,” she said.
A CRD staff report said park management plans typically undergo a high degree of public consultation. The record of public feedback on the leash no-leash option was supported or not contested by park and trail users.
But Sooke council in July asked the CRD to permit dogs off-leash on the Galloping Goose Trail, and the trails and surrounding area along the Sooke River Potholes, between Kilometre 49 and the CRD Watershed, except between May and the end of September to correspond with CRD Parks summertime parking regulations.
CRD staff said the plan is to have a dog management policy consistent across the region.
“It’s a bad precedent to take chunks out of the trail policy and change the rules,” View Royal Mayor David Screech said.
Both Tait and Metchosin Mayor John Ranns disagreed, pointing out there’s a difference between urban and rural areas of the Galloping Goose. From Colwood west to Sooke the trail in wood chip or gravel, while the trail heading into Victoria is paved.
“To have a blanket policy that’s primarily aimed at urban areas will always be a problem for those living in rural areas,” Ranns said.
Added Tait: “The Goose is different in [the Sooke] area. It’s not paved and it’s not used by commuters because nobody lives in the area.”
Committee chair and Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt said clarity is needed around the rules.
The committee directed staff to provide a dog-under-command option for the Galloping Goose Trail from Kilometre 49 to the CRD watershed, except in the summer season between June 1 and Sept. 15.
The committee also wants to know how many tickets were issued in 2018 and 2019 by CRD enforcement staff, and wants more input from cyclists, Sooke residents and other trail users.
“It’s a regulation worth looking at,” Isitt said.