A fatal dog attack in Mount Douglas Park in early April has advocates calling for stricter leashing requirements in the park, while over in Cadboro Bay, residents are requesting new restrictions and an off-leash park.
According to Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, complaints from park-users about unruly off-leash dogs have increased since 2019 and encounters have become more heated.
Incidents where loose dogs have frightened children, nearly knocked over elderly park users, trampled plants, scared wildlife and bitten other dogs or people have been reported, he said. On April 6, a large off-leash dog bit a park user and fatally injured another dog.
Following the attack, the society penned a letter asking the Saanich parks, trails and recreation (PTR) committee to endorse a request for the animals bylaw to be amended to require dogs in the park to be on a leash no longer than two metres and limit the number of dogs under a person’s control to two.
The group also recommended that Saanich consider establishing a dog park, and the Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association (CBRA) is hoping to do just that.
Eric Dahli, president of the CBRA, has requested that a temporary fenced dog park be set up in the grassy part of Cadboro-Gyro Park with separate areas for small and large dogs, and that restrictions banning dogs from the park pathways be reduced.
The closure of the Cedar Hill Corner (informally known as the UVic Dog Park) in 2020, summertime dog restrictions coming into effect at Willows Beach and Cadboro Bay on May 1 and an increase in dog adoptions and park use during the pandemic have created a perfect storm in Saanich, Dahli said.
He feels the community would benefit from the creation of a fenced area dedicated to off-leash dogs, and a resident-run change.org petition started in late April calling for such a space had more than 300 signatures by Wednesday.
A study conducted by the CRBA in 2020 found no harmonious solution to the controversy surrounding Saanich’s off-leash dog restrictions, but Dahli said a park for dogs to run and play would “take the pressure off the beach,” and alleviate issues in other parks.
“If we got a blessing from Saanich, we’d go ahead and build it,” he said, adding that the CBRA is no stranger to crowd-sourcing.
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