Cadboro Bay-Gyro Park has been a long-standing point of contention among residents with and without dogs, and this area is especially unique since the area is federally protected under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations.
At a July 5 committee of the whole meeting, council resolved to move forward by referring a report from animal control – recommending that dogs remain on leash at all times on the beach – to Saanich staff in parks and bylaws. Staff will then come back to council with an approach that will satisfy the many needs recognized in the next few months.
Dogs are currently allowed to run off-leash on the east side of the beach, however, a letter came from the federal department of environment and wildlife outlining that this contravenes federal bylaws.
Saanich animal control officers and wildlife enforcement said that lack of clarity has been challenging and is confusing for park visitors. Some proposed resolutions by council include adding clearer signage and referring to areas where the bylaws need adjusting.
“We need to put our bylaw in compliance with migratory birds, these should be sent back to staff to address a new section within our bylaw that covers the migratory bird section,” said Coun. Judy Brownoff in the meeting.
Mayor Fred Haynes said that there’s an issue regarding the meaning of dogs being under control. “Do dogs have to be on a leash, or can they run near their owners and be considered under control? It can be subjective,” he said.
According to wildlife enforcement officers, ‘under control’ means dogs must be on a leash, tied to something sturdy, in a crate, or held in the owner’s arms. Haynes said that there have been many reports from enforcement where they’ve seen dogs chasing the protected birds, posing concern in the off-leash areas.
“This is tricky because many residents really appreciate the opportunity to take their dogs to the east side of the beach where their dogs can exercise off-leash,” said Haynes.
The area is one of the busiest parks with high levels of conflict between dog owners and non-dog owners, including difficult interactions among animal control officers and federal wildlife enforcement officers, according to a report.
Haynes said that he hopes the comprehensive report that will result from the July 5 discussion will bring clarity to park users and enforcement officers as recommendations for resolution continue to evolve.
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