Runners

Dallas Road fence debate far from over

For years, Wayne has had a solid and peaceful morning routine.

For years, Wayne has had a solid and peaceful morning routine.

Every morning, rain or shine, the 75-year-old Victoria resident wakes up, gets ready and around 7 a.m. goes for a long walk along Dallas Road.

Starting from the halfway point of Dallas Road, Wayne walks down to Clover Point, along the breakwater and back. The walk is just over seven kilometres and takes him roughly an hour and 20 minutes.

For Wayne, it’s a peaceful time where he can get some much-needed exercise.

“After I get going, I feel good,” he said.

However, Wayne, who did not wish to publish his last name, said he’s seen a number of run-ins between dogs and pedestrians recently.

In one incident near Cook Street and Dallas Road, he saw a large dog leap at a passing jogger. The owner managed to pull the dog back on his leash before it could pounce on the jogger and the dog fell onto its back. Wayne witnessed a similar incident between a dog and a jogger a few days later near Douglas Street and Dallas Road as well.

Most recently, Wayne was walking towards Clover Point when he passed a man in a wheelchair. An off-leash dog was frolicking in the field when it suddenly charged at the man and allegedly bit him on the hand. The owner refused to give the man the dog’s collar number so he could report it, Wayne said.

“On the whole, the majority of the dogs are fine. There’s a few exceptions where there’s a few problems,” said Wayne, adding he personally has never been injured or jumped on by a dog, but noted him and his wife sometimes feel nervous around larger dogs. “They could really hurt somebody, especially an elderly person.”

Recently, Victoria city staff proposed installing a split-rail fence along Dallas Road as part of a one-year, $60,000-pilot project to separate pedestrians and dogs on the pathway.

According to city staff, formal complaints about conflicts between dogs and pedestrians along Dallas Road have dropped in recent years. In 2014, there were more than 60 complaints. That number dropped to about 40 last year and 20 in the first six months of 2016.

One councillor noted the numbers have dropped because some people have decided to go elsewhere.

But the proposed plan was met with immense backlash from the public, with councillors receiving hundreds of emails from residents — some of which had constructive suggestions, others who had a threatening tone if council decided to move forward.

Since then, council has back pedaled on the idea, much to the dismay of some residents who were in favour of the fence.

“I wasn’t happy (about not having a fence now). There’s room for everybody, but there are an awful lot of dogs out there and they have to have a place to go also,” said Wayne, adding he remains optimistic council will be able to come up with a solution to make the pathway safe for all users in the future.