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Saanich moves ahead with strategy for shared use of parks

Councillor says the project will require careful analysis to balance needs of pet owners and others
Terms of reference were discussed at an Aug. 16 committee of the whole meeting for a district-wide park sharing strategy. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Saanich is one step closer to finding harmony in its parks between pet owners and other members of the community.

At the Aug. 16 committee of the whole meeting, it was unanimously supported to further develop the terms for a strategy to better share Saanich’s parks.

Saanich council first approved the strategy in July, and staff was asked to prepare the detailed terms before the planned August meeting.

“This is going to be a process that undertakes very careful analysis, rooted in facts and strong public engagement for the purpose of developing recommendations and strategies that are going to be effective,” said Coun. Zac de Vries in an interview.

The district’s total budget for this strategy is up to $175,000 including taxes, with $20,000 for meetings and public engagement activities that will be funded by the Strategic Initiatives Fund.

ALSO READ: Comprehensive report will review leash regulations for Saanich’s Cadboro Bay-Gyro Park

The strategy will be guided and supported by an internal steering committee, which a report said is fueled by a cross-organizational philosophy. Consultants and staff will work together to review, coordinate and approve major elements of the project from start to finish.

The final report will seek to include details about residents’ experiences in off-leash dog areas and key findings of all public engagement activities.

Also to be considered are best management practices, pet and human health and safety, and ensuring sustainable environments.

“This is really about creating balance and ensuring that we recognize the need for off-leash recreation and ensuring diverse opportunities throughout the municipality by creating safe spaces for people with and without dogs,” said de Vries.

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