As the tourists begin to disappear from Greater Victoria beaches, the dogs return.
Willows Park opens back up to on and off-leash dog walking Oct. 1, and remains open to canine beach-goers until April 30, when the beaches get busy again.
“I think there’s an effort through that regulation to limit the potential for kids, or whoever, to deal with dog business on the beach,” said Ray Herman, director of parks, recreation and culture for Oak Bay. “Not everyone is comfortable around dogs.”
And it’s not just people that might be uncomfortable. The entire shoreline falls under Victoria’s Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary – a busy wildlife corridor established in 1923 to control the hunting of geese and ducks, and the site of ongoing wildlife recovery programs. In the winter, the Oak Bay portion of the sanctuary is home to about 4,200 birds.
In the past, the Friends of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary have proposed a bylaw banning dogs from the south end of Willows Beach, from Bowker Avenue to Bowker Creek estuary. No such bylaw has yet been created.
And ecological reserves have their own set of restrictions – including the prohibition of off-leash animals.
This fall, Oak Bay plans to continue to look at a new bylaw that considers federal and local interests – working to have rules that comply with the federal government’s land restrictions and concerns for the beach’s birds.
As for other dog-friendly beach spots, Gonzales Beach has only a two month no-dog-rule. The beach prohibits pups from the sand between June 1 to Aug. 31 and allows them back, on or off-leash from from Sept. 1 – May 31.
And dog owners can again enjoy picnic areas and beaches at Thetis Lake with their pups starting Sept. 15. The park prohibits dogs in those areas starting June 1.
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