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LETTER: Reasons to ban off-leash dogs on beach don’t hold water

Your article “Unleashing the Hounds” gives a good account of the current dispute around off-leash dogs. One aspect though that I think needs consideration is the inconsistency of many of the spurious arguments put forward.

You mention the closure of the Cedar Hill field in 2020, an area that had been open to the public for 50 years, and as you say was used to exercise dogs (and people). None of the purported reasons for banning public access make much sense: 1. To control COVID. 2. The field was to be used for cross-country training (it is flat with a running track). 3. Reconciliation (with whom?). 4 It was required as a building site (after two years no plan has been put forward to build).

At Gyro Park and Cadboro Bay, protection of migrating birds appears to be the main reason for banning off-leash dogs. Birds only migrate for a short time in spring and fall, yet the ban on dogs is for the entire year. No mention is made of power boats in the bay, a large marina at the yacht club, the piles of refuse left by visitors to the beach in summer and worst of all the houses. The algal blooms that occur every summer in the bay are likely caused by garden fertilizers. Some of the homeowners may own cats that are vastly more dangerous to wildlife than dogs. Houses are not consistent with a nature reserve unless the owners accept restrictions on their activities.

I believe that most dog-owners have no objection to the requirement that their pets should be always under control, however, what has caused their resentment is spurious arguments put forward by those who would like to see the beach and park free of dogs to the exclusion of far more damaging threats to bird life from people and boats. Those who live in beachfront houses have no more rights to the beach than the rest of us. You mention the many complaints against dogs. It is easy to clock up large numbers of phone calls by a few people. I walk on the beach most days and in more than 20 years I have seen no more than one or two serious conflicts with dogs.

Robert Horn

Cadboro Bay