Sunday, February 25, 2024

Saanich wants your input on which parks should be leash-optional for dogs


The District of Saanich has released the draft for its new People, Pets and Parks Strategy and before the draft plan is finalized, the district is looking for one last round of public input.

Saanich put this plan into development to provide a framework to help manage its parks and open spaces with the goal of achieving positive relationships between people, pets and the environment throughout the district.

With more people and pets than ever before, the district realized they needed a strategy to manage growing populations in finite outdoor spaces, so they launched the People, Pets and Parks Strategy back in spring of 2022. 

Since then, it’s been through a 16-month community engagement and planning process to get a draft plan available for more public feedback. 

One key concern in the creation of this plan is that Saanich is home to some of BC’s most unique at-risk-species and ecosystems which have a major significance to the land and the lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples. The District of Saanich hired a consultant, Lees and Associates, to examine the uses of parks and the environmental impact. 

In addition to managing the strategy’s environmental impact, the feedback Saanich received through public engagement made the district acutely aware there is a huge need for parks that are accommodating of different types of pets depending on size, behaviour, level of training, age and mental state.

In order to keep the peace at parks and make sure they are usable for people who do and don’t have pets, Saanich is considering updating the district’s current animal bylaws to require dogs to be on leash at all times, except when in a designated leash-optional area. 

The current bylaw allows for animals to be off-leash in any park, provided they are being controlled by their owners.

As part of the draft plan, there will be 12 permanent, fenced leash-optional parks in Saanich including Brodick Park, Cuthbert Holmes Park, Emily Carr Park, Hyacinth Park, Houlihan Park, Lambrick Park, Layritz Park, PKOLS (Mount Douglas Park), Rainbow Park, Regina Park, Rudd Park and Sierra Park. Cordova Bay Beach has also been identified as a year-round leash-optional park.

The last round of public engagement is currently underway and will continue through until June 11th. Following this, the final draft will be presented to the Saanich municipal council on June 26th. 

Saanich residents can have their voices heard through an online feedback form.

Curtis Blandy

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