With a variety of needs and opinions relating to dogs in parks, Saanich is hoping to gain good information through a new survey, online open houses and pop-up events.
As part of the People, Pets and Parks Strategy, the public is being asked to contribute by completing an online survey or joining an online “community conversation,” June 2 or June 14.
Coun. Judy Brownoff, who chairs the district’s parks, trails and recreation committee, has dug deep into this issue and has received comments from people across the spectrum.
Saanich has issued over 1,000 new dog licences during the pandemic, a trend that parallels the increased use of public parks and trails. Brownoff hopes the public input will help develop a compromise strategy that addresses the needs of dog owners and acknowledges environmental and safety concerns.
While People, Pets and Parks was a response to complaints over the lack of “dog parks” in Saanich and the environmental impact dogs can have, Brownoff said many people don’t realize Saanich bylaws state dogs can be in any municipal park, as long as they’re either on leash or otherwise under control.
“If you call your dog and it comes back, it’s considered to be under control,” she said. But with so many more dogs out there, and a range of opinions and related challenges with the bylaw, council decided the district needed a more clear policy.
“The bylaw we have doesn’t seem to reflect the needs now. Dogs are part of families and we need to have some sort of compromise. That’s why if you own a dog or not, it’s important to get involved in these surveys.”
The pop-up dog park pilot project, expanded this year from five to nine parks, had a successful debut as people not only found new spots to let their dogs run free in a fenced environment, they connected with other pet owners.
“What would be great for me is if you had a dog park that was in a park that was close to a neighbourhood, that was walkable,” Brownoff said. “Whatever the strategy comes forward with, I’m hopeful that it’ll be a balance and that dog parks will be part of the park mix.”
Registration for the online meetings – Thursday, June 2 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and Tuesday, June 14 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., both via Zoom – can be done at saanich.ca/peoplepetsparks. The online survey can also be accessed via that web page and residents can sign up there for emailed updates on the strategy.
For residents who prefer to facilitate their own small group conversation, workbooks are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, with background information on the project and questions to guide the conversation. Notes taken from the discussion can be submitted to the project team via email so the feedback can be recorded.
Comments will also be gathered at pop-ups hosted at the temporary dog parks and local beaches. Schedule details will be shared on the project webpage once confirmed.
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