Saanich Parks has spent a lot of taxpayer money, time and effort engaging in public consultation via surveys, town meetings, etc., trying to develop an updated strategy regarding dogs and parks.
The “statistically valid/representative survey” of community members was conducted to “gather input about existing park use, community priorities, and the challenges and benefits of shared use of parks by people and pets in Saanich.”
The survey results are very favourable towards dogs in Saanich parks, despite some questions being worded in a way that encourages negative responses.
Page 11 of the survey summary reveals that positive feelings about dogs greatly outweigh negative ones among respondents:
86% of respondents agree that “Dogs are a welcome part of the community.”
83% agree with the statement that “I have mostly positive experiences with dogs in … Saanich.”
79% agree that they “have mostly positive experience with dog owners in … Saanich.”
78% agree that they are “comfortable with dogs being present when enjoying open spaces in the community.”
So, we have a valid survey in which responses are mostly dog-positive. Why then is Saanich’s public narrative about the survey results so anti-dog?
Instead of citing the majority of positive responses, the emphasis is frequently placed on the negative ones, creating a false impression of widespread problems with dogs in Saanich parks, when the opposite is true, according to the survey.
Clearly, there are environmental and other concerns that need to be addressed. What I don’t agree with is the likelihood that Saanich will go way beyond that and make major changes to our parks, including implementing serious restrictions on off-leash dogs, or even outright banning them.
Lots of money, lots of time, lots of effort to accommodate the very small percentage of Saanich residents who have issues with dogs. Should the proverbial squeaky wheel continue to trump the facts on the ground?