Saanich council has moved forward a plan that would allow dogs on leash in all areas of Cadboro-Gyro park and beach at any time of the year.
While the move would see a lifting of the seasonal restrictions that prohibit dogs in the park or beach between May 1 and Aug. 31, it would also mean dogs would not be permitted to be off leash anywhere in the area at any time.
The motion to give three readings to an amendment to the district’s Animals Bylaw passed in a 6-3 vote at council’s Oct. 18 meeting, with Mayor Fred Haynes and Couns. Colin Plant and Karen Harper opposed.
In a briefing note provided to staff, Saanich police stated their continued support of removing the seasonal restrictions for dogs in the park is that it sets an objective standard that is easier to enforce.
“This is making a change with very little notice and with no study attached to it,” said Harper during discussions. “It’s not that there is no access, there is some access and the question is, should we be changing a 42-year-old rule without a study?”
Plant also stood by maintaining the seasonal prohibition of dogs, noting that other municipalities enforce such restrictions on dogs in parks. He added Cadboro-Gyro Park could become a busy regional dog owners destination without adequate seasonal rules in place.
In May, Saanich council gave three readings to an amendment bylaw that would permit dogs on leash in specified areas of Cadboro-Gyro Park, in order to ensure access to the beach. Council declined to adopt the amendment, however, instead seeking more information from enforcement staff related to the issue.
In response, the Saanich Police Department brought forward a series of recommendations.
They included amending the Saanich Animals Bylaw to have it align with federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations, as well as to make all of Cadboro-Gyro Park a dogs on-leash area, with only non-extending leashes permitted. The amendment bylaw moved forward removed the leash length recommendation.
An alternative to the latter change would allow park visitors to walk dogs on-leash between May 1 and Aug. 31 through the prohibited dog area of Cadboro-Gyro Park, to an area of Cadboro Bay Beach where the Saanich Animals Bylaw permits dogs to run at large in a Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
One resident wrote in to say that, “a solution to this problem lies in approaching the subject in a spirit of harmony and reconciliation, rather than pitting neighbour against neighbour, and resorting to confrontation and the heavy hand of the law.”
Another wrote a blanket on-leash bylaw is ineffective and does not take into account that most dog owners are responsible and care deeply about the surrounding bird sanctuaries.
The change would take effect once council voted to adopt the amendment bylaw, a vote that could happen in the coming weeks.