Dog owners get the jump on the new dogs off leash rule at Fisherman’s Wharf Park. As part of a one-year pilot project, the park officially becomes an off-leash area on July 1, between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. (Don Descoteau/Black Press)

Fisherman’s Wharf, Oaklands parks added to off-leash dog mix in Victoria

Victoria councillors approve year-long pilot project

Tim Collins/Victoria News

Pooches in Victoria will soon have more space to run off-leash after Victoria councillors voted to add two more parks to the city’s list for a one-year trial period.

Beginning July 1, Fisherman’s Wharf park will become an off-leash area from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., a time allotment that takes into account the heavy crowds that frequent the popular tourist destination. Oaklands Park will also be designated as an off-leash area.

Mayor Lisa Helps described the plan as a pilot program designed to give council a better perspective on a long-term plan for dealing with the sometimes competing interests of people looking to allow their dogs some off-leash freedom and those who are against the concept.

“If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But if it does work, then we get some valuable information back and that will help us develop a strategy for dogs in parks that will be very (useful),” said Helps.

The idea of extending the off-leash concept to popular Gonzales Beach was rejected by councillors, who were sitting as committee of the whole. They worried about dogs defecating in the tidal zone and having that material enter the water at high tide, contaminating the swimming area.

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