As the weather gets nicer and temperatures rise, many are inclined to head to the nearest beach but Saanich dog owners are asked to check restrictions before taking their pooches to the beach as many have a no dog policy from May 1 to Aug. 31.
Dogs are welcome at most of the District’s parks but pet owners must follow guidelines including picking up after their dogs, following leash regulations and respecting the surrounding environment, said Kelsie McLeod, spokesperson for the District.
Some areas are off-limits to dogs year-round – Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary and Quick’s Bottom Park – due to the sensitive environments in the parks but others only limit access to dogs during the summer, McLeod explained.
Dogs are prohibited in #MtDougPark, on the beach, as well as in general west of the creek and north of Cordova Bay Road during May through August.— Friends of Mount Douglas Park (@MountDougPark) May 2, 2020
Elsewhere in the park you are required to keep your dog under control and remove its waste. pic.twitter.com/iI9CPBbWYe
Seasonal dog restrictions are in place from May 1 - Aug. 31 at parts of Cadboro Bay Beach and Cordova Bay Beach except before 9 a.m., at Whitehead Park and at the beach section of Mount Douglas Park.
Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society has been informing pet owners about the bylaw for years. The beach along with the parts of the park bounded by Cordova Bay Road, Ash Road, Douglas Creek and the northwestern edge of the park is off-limits to canine residents – even if they’re on a leash, Wick explained. While leashed dogs and well-behaved unleashed dogs are allowed on the trails up Mount Douglas, they’re only allowed on the asphalt in the beach section of the park, he said.
We recently encountered someone with an out of control dog in #MtDougPark. They justified the behaviour by saying, "This is a dog park." Mt Douglas Park is not a dog park. Saanich has no dog parks. Dog walkers must keep their dogs on leash or under control in #Saanich parks. 1/5— Friends of Mount Douglas Park (@MountDougPark) March 3, 2020
While he understands the beach may seem like a nice place for pooches to play, that can disrupt beach-goers and the wildlife who call the area home.
Despite signs throughout the park, in the parking lot and on the beach, dogs are frequently spotted in off-limits areas, Wick said, even as several dogs – both leashed and unleashed – passed by with their owners heading to and from the beach.
He pointed out that friendly dogs are often more of a problem as they’ll approach other park-users who may be afraid or get knocked over. Unleashed dogs also seem to head straight off the trails and into the underbrush which can harm the plants and other parts of the ecosystem, Wick added.
We like to say take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but memories. Remember to stay on trails so you do not impact any native plants. Thanks! https://t.co/BeSJw2z72e— Saanich Parks, Recreation & Community Services (@SaanichParksRec) May 6, 2020
He pointed out that while most park-users and pet owners are respectful, there are always some who seem to think the rules don’t apply. “Dog owners need to take responsibility” and get familiar with Saanich’s rules when it comes to dogs, Wick said.
“We’re not anti-dog but we’re pro-park,” he said, adding the goal is to keep the “urban forest gem” protected so future generations can enjoy it.
For more information on Saanich park “petiquette,” visit saanich.ca.