Dog bag phase out created park poop problem, says dog walker

Centennial Park on the Saanich Peninsula going to the dogs

James Younger, a professional dog walker in Central Saanich, says Centennial Park is “disgusting” after the municipality discontinued its dog bag program.

“It’s just so gross,” said Younger.

According to the Central Saanich website, phasing out the program saves taxpayers $7,000-$10,000 a year. The District will instead pilot a “take-a-bag, leave-a-bag” program with receptacles installed at the end of June in most parks.

Patrick Robins, Chief Administrative Officer of Central Saanich, says it’s the first he’s heard about the change and has received no additional calls for service about the issue, though he understood there was some public concern based on past letters to the editor.

Robins said District staff have not noticed more dog feces in parks. He said the bag dispensers are still there, but the shift to take-a-bag, leave-a-bag comes from other municipalities that “have had great success, so we piloted the same.”

Robins said if residents saw changes in the park because of the new bag program, they should call the District to let them know.

According to Central Saanich mayor Ryan Windsor, he’s heard mixed feelings from residents on the change.

“There’s been some concern from residents about increased excrement from our canine friends, and we’re hearing them,” said Windsor.

Windsor said while the cost of bags is not high compared to other budget items, “it’s a lot for plastic bags,” adding he had heard people were taking large numbers of bags, instead of only one at a time (though he had not seen it himself).

He said the program would be re-evaluated during the next municipal budget process, as the decision to buy more bags would be made then.

If staff find an increase in excrement or hear that from residents, they may choose to change course.

“That can only really be determined by the test of time,” said Windsor.

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