Input sought on dog rules

Oak Bay mayor wants to make municipality more dog-friendly

Christine Ash cuddles her dog

Christine Ash cuddles her dog

Oak Bay is going to the dogs.

Not in the negative sense, mind you. Rather, the municipality is eyeing a number of possible changes to its canine policies which would make the community more dog-friendly.

It’s one of the pledges Mayor Nils Jensen made in his inaugural address last November. And he’s wasting no time getting down to it.

Last week Jensen met with representatives of the Windsor Park Dog Group, a collective of dog owners who have been some of the most vocal advocates for Oak Bay’s tail-wagging set.

“We agreed it’s in the best interest of the community, for dog owners and non-dog owners alike, that the municipality supports responsible dog ownership as it strives to be a dog-friendly community,” group member Christine Ash wrote in an email to the News.

Though the specifics of any potential changes have yet to be laid out, a variety of topics are on the table.

They include everything from licensing fees to the number of off-leash areas, to the contentious matter of access to Willows Beach.

The bottom line, said Jensen, is to make sure the municipality adequately represents the interests of dog owners, while being fair to those without furry companions.

“When you look at a park generally, there’s a whole bunch of users, only one of which would be the dog owners,” he said. “We have to take into account the soccer, or the rugby, or any of the other users of our parks.

“I think over the years we’ve been quite successful in Oak Bay with balancing those interests, and they all have to be taken into account before we start any initiative.”

Jensen said he consulted with the Windsor Park group because of its successful campaign several years ago to relax off-leash restrictions in the park, an initiative which has seen positive results.

The group has been asked to do some research and come up with its own recommendations.

They are expected to report back with ideas this spring or early summer.