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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Saanich's dog-leash bylaw is ready to go for a walk

“I think it is accurate to suggest that nobody in Saanich is likely 100% happy with the outcome.” - Saanich Coun. Colin Plant

Mark Brennae
November 8, 2023
Municipal
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Saanich's dog-leash bylaw is ready to go for a walk

“I think it is accurate to suggest that nobody in Saanich is likely 100% happy with the outcome.” - Saanich Coun. Colin Plant

Mark Brennae
Nov 8, 2023
Photo: Ryan Hook / Capital Daily
Photo: Ryan Hook / Capital Daily
Municipal
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Saanich's dog-leash bylaw is ready to go for a walk

“I think it is accurate to suggest that nobody in Saanich is likely 100% happy with the outcome.” - Saanich Coun. Colin Plant

Mark Brennae
November 8, 2023
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Saanich's dog-leash bylaw is ready to go for a walk
Photo: Ryan Hook / Capital Daily

Saanich’s controversial new Animals Bylaw on Monday passed its fourth and final reading, meaning the district’s regulations on where and when a dog is allowed to be off-leash in a municipal park has been written into municipal law.

But at least one councillor is pretty sure it's not written into stone.

Coun. Colin Plant calls the process to get here “challenging” for council and unfortunately, “very divisive” for the community.

“I think it is accurate to suggest that nobody in Saanich is likely 100% happy with the outcome.”

With so many varying and valid viewpoints, and human nature being what it is when it comes to abidance, Plant likely isn’t wrong when he tells Capital Daily: “There will undoubtedly need to be a review of the bylaw in the future to ensure it is meeting its objectives.”

After months of, at-times contentious public input, the upshot is 56 of Saanich's 172 parks will remain leash-optional, while 43 additional parks will allow leash-optional activity between 6am and 9am.

The bylaw puts the emphasis on dog owners being responsible, beginning with using a non-extendable, fixed leash that can be no more than 2.4 metres (8 feet) long. 

If an owner allows their dog off-leash, the animal must remain under control, which Saanich defines as “in direct and continuous charge and within a clear line of sight of a person who has control over the dog and immediate return of the dog to the person upon recall or signal.”

Training and retractable leashes are allowed in leash-optional areas.

One area dogs will not be allowed to enter is the playground surface area surrounding play equipment. And owners must ensure their dog is on leash within 10 metres of that playground.

The bow wow breakdown

Dogs must be on leash:

  • At all times in all parks that are zoned as P5 conservation areas and P4N natural parks, unless otherwise posted at PKOLS (Mount Douglas Park) except in select areas (Glendenning trail to the summit at PKOLS and the Glendenning, Whittaker, Maddock trail loop). Select areas of fencing to protect natural areas will be erected as funding allows
  • In Cuthbert Holmes Park, except for the berm along the highway 
  • In Cedar Hill Park
  • In all Saanich’s community gardens 

What about the beaches?

All beaches outside the Victoria Migratory Bird Sanctuary will remain leash-optional with the same seasonal restrictions that currently exist: Dogs are not allowed at PKOLS, Whitehead Park and Cordova Bay beaches (between Walema Avenue right-of-way to Cordova Bay Park, except before 9am) from May through Aug.

What's next?

Saanich calls this a “transition period”, with park signage being updated and reminders posted on the district’s website and on its social media outlets as work continues on its People, Pets and Parks Strategy.

“Saanich staff will be bringing forward a revised implementation plan for the PPP strategy which will suggest next steps for creating off-leash enclosed dog parks, additional signage and fencing requirements to protect sensitive environmental areas,” Plant said.

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