Dogs in parks movement in Oak Bay riles former soccer coach

Dog poop not cleaned up by pet owners presents problem for field users

A resident who lives near Carnarvon Park says council is barking up the wrong tree in trying to make Oak Bay parks more dog friendly.

The move comes at the expense of children playing sports, says Dave Secco, who spoke out against potential changes to rules relating to dogs at Carnarvon, Windsor or Henderson parks in a packed council chamber last week.

“I feel betrayed,” Secco told council.

The former soccer coach said Oak Bay is fortunate to have some of the best soccer fields in Greater Victoria. The emphasis on creating dog parks is a slap in the face to those who have worked hard to make the parks suitable.

He told council he spent a decade coaching and making sure the fields were ready for the games.

Dogs allowed to go wild on the field … is  not appropriate. You have these little guys doing throw-ins, their hands covered in poo. It doesn’t work.”

Secco said he sees people let their dogs run free at Carnarvon without cleaning up after them. Even when they do, he said, there is residue left over which ends up on kids playing soccer. “I work out of my house. I know what’s happening at Carnarvon.”

Kids’ bags would get urinated on, he added, because they would be left beside a tree. “I have a hose at my house and I would send kids there to clean themselves up.”

Secco proposed that fencing be placed around soccer fields to keep dogs out. “I look at Saanich and Victoria, their elite fields are fenced. Ours is not.”

Mayor Nils Jensen, whose own children played soccer under Secco at Carnarvon, said dogs are supposed to be leashed and he understands Secco’s concerns.

“There is significant difference in the two parks in terms of cleanliness,” Jensen said comparing Carnarvon and Windsor. “I have seen people living close by, let their dogs outside and they go across the street and use the park. The Windsor Park group have very responsible owners there and as a result, don’t get the same level of filth.”

Coun. Pam Copley said plans to redesign Carnarvon Park are on hold, pending public consultation. She added a balance is needed to make both groups happy.

“Sport fields are important and they contribute to the community,” she said. “But the Windsor dog group also contributes to the community by bringing people together.”

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