The People, Pets, and Parks Strategy that means stricter dog leash rules was unanimously passed by Saanich council Wednesday (June 28) evening.
Many dog owners and Saanich residents left the meeting in disbelief after the decision was made.
“I have believed in the democratic process my whole life and for the first time I don’t have faith in it,” said Eulala Mills, a founding member of Facebook Page Happy Dogs. “We’re shocked, as Coun. Plant said 90 per cent of the letters go against the strategy so we assume they would listen to their constituents. To get that overwhelming amount of letters and that voting against it is democratic, doesn’t feel like it to me.”
Coun. Colin Plant told Black Press Media after the council meeting that “now that a decision has been made, the residents of Saanich will respect their elected leaders made a decision. We don’t always agree with the decisions that our government makes, but as a country and as a region we tend to follow the law.”
The passing of the strategy means Saanich will limit the off-leash areas to one beach, 10 parks where dogs have where dogs can be off-leash, 12 fenced-in areas, 20 parks that have sports fields which will be closed to dogs many months of the year, and only a two-kilometre trail loop at PKOLS.
“We’re disapointed at the lack of engagement with the stakeholders that are dog folks,” said Tamara Castle, a board member of the capital region of dog professionals. “People who are Saanich licenced dog holders were not engaged in the consultation process, dog professionals were not engaged in the consultation dispute having reached out.”
Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock was disheartened by the divide in Saanich, saying, “I regret the divisiveness this has created in our community. I’m hopeful that our council has created a pathway here that will allow us all to understand the impacts of what it’s going to mean for the availability of dogs to exercise off-leash.”
The first course of action for the PPP strategy will be to update the signage in 2023, and additional fencing, updating bylaws and more is to come in 2024.