Council puts the brakes on off-leash pilot project

Council puts the brakes on off-leash pilot project

Dogs will have to continue to be leashed in two neighbourhood parks —at least until next month.

Victoria city council recently voted to postpone its decision on a pilot project that would allow dogs to roam off leash at Fisherman’s Wharf Park and Gonzales Beach.

“Although I’m very supportive of pets and their owners being able to recreate, I want to make sure we have a good balance for the rest of the individuals who want to use the parks as well as those spaces,” said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, who brought forward the motion with Mayor Lisa Helps.

The one-year pilot project would allow owners to let their dogs off leash at Fisherman’s Wharf Park from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. It was also allow dogs on Gonzales Beach in the summer months between 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Councillors Margaret Lucas and Marianne Alto suggested expanding the project to include Spencer Park in Oaklands, as well as a few parks in the Burnside Gorge and Vic West neighbourhoods.

But some councillors questioned how the city would measure the success of the program after the one-year pilot was up.

“It’s really important to recognize that public comment is only one component and public activity is another,” said Coun. Geoff Young.

“If we can get a measure of the number of people using the parks before and after the changes, the number of people with and without dogs, it would perhaps be more useful than a public consultation, which in the end, is not going to result in a meeting of the minds.”

Allowing dogs to roam off leash has been a controversial issue within the city during the past year. In July, council voted down a proposed motion to erect a fence along Dallas Road to separate dogs from pedestrians, an idea that was met with public outcry from residents both for and against it.

Staff will report back to council on the implications of implementing the off-leash pilot project during the next quarterly update on Thursday, June 8.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com