Dogs may take early shift at Willows

Asher Weinerman winds up to throw a stick for his German shepherd cross

Move would require dog owners to self-police on poop

Willows Beach may soon go to the dogs – at least until 9 a.m.

Oak Bay council discussed the possibility of opening up the popular summer spot to dog walkers, despite a current bylaw forbidding unleashed canines between May 1 and Sept. 30.

Council received a petition with 55 signatures and two letters supporting the change, one from long-time dog owner Jackie Powell.

“I walk the dogs every morning of the week and what I do now is go to Gyro Park because you are allowed there until 9 a.m.,” the Oak Bay resident said. “(Willows Beach) is always empty of people then.”

She hopes council will consider a trial period of one month to allow dog owners to prove their responsibility. She added that dogs aren’t even the worst offenders.

“I have picked up beer bottles and cans and debris … (Dog owners) do a big service of cleaning up the beach. I don’t want my dog to step on glass, or kids to either.”

Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney agrees, and said dog owners have proven themselves responsible in the past.

“This community has demonstrated at Windsor Park and McNeill Bay that dog owners can be responsible, compliant and self-regulating in ensuring that doggy poop is cleaned up,” she said. “So long as this can be replicated at Willows, we need to give this request serious consideration.”

Council is sending the issue to Oak Bay Parks and Recreation for a report before it makes a decision. Ney, however, is cautiously optimistic.

“I am confident that we can find a way to ensure the beach area can be shared, in a way that is safe for families and their children, as well as dog owners.”

Powell hopes the councillor is right.

“It is a beautiful venue to walk your dogs … when it is not being used,” she said.

“There are no sunbathers (and) people with kids are not down there that early. It just makes common sense.”

editor@oakbaynews.com

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