The decision by Saanich council to ram through the People, Pets and Parks Strategy enrages me on two fronts. The first is the lack of democratic process. Council’s refusal to work with, at no cost, professional environmentalists, dog trainers, disability groups, and other stakeholders as well as the decision to not contact each household in Saanich to explain the proposal in the first place makes it impossible to believe council is representing the people and screams undue influence.
Continuing to work in the shadows to ram this bylaw through against the will of at least 75% of their constituents when there is no reason for urgency will only fuel dissension and mistrust.
My second reason for outrage is this: I have been involved with various environmental groups for many years. I have studied and understand enough to know our planets’ systems are failing.
Even if dogs caused any issues to the environment, which council has not shown any evidence to prove, this issue is so far down the list of actions that need to be taken that this bylaw would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Forcing intelligent and capable people to focus on fighting this decision rather than helping to make the real changes necessary to make our air more breathable, and our waters cleaner stinks of purposeful misdirection.
It is time for council to prioritize and to delegate. Be honest. Cooperate with people who have the will to make decisions that impact the community as a whole. Council should immediately start to work on proven strategies to make our communities healthier.
If council passes this bylaw, against the will of the majority, without evidence, using an outdated and irrelevant law, sledgehammer penalties, by scapegoating some communities to justify it, and most importantly, at the expense of ignoring the very real existential threats we are now facing, then they will be accountable for the outcomes. In the short term, these will be heightened division in the community, enforcement expense and difficulty, growing suspicion and mistrust of all council members who vote yes.