A Saanich dog owner has rebuked the district’s decision regarding year-round leash rules at Cadboro-Gyro Park by beginning a petition that as of Nov. 10 had garnered more than 1,200 signatures.
While the recent bylaw change lifted the longtime seasonal restriction banning dogs from the park or beach between May 1 and Aug. 31, it also prohibits dogs off leash anywhere in the park at any time.
Eliza Kerridge, who initiated the petition and owns a mixed-breed rescue dog named Luca, said the goal is now to restore off-leash capacity to the area of the beach where dogs were allowed to run freely from September through April.
“This impacts the mental health of dog owners and their dogs – their need to run at large is so important – and just because some dog owners are not in control doesn’t mean all are, most are highly responsible and caring, ” Kerridge said.
People and their dogs need this beach, she added – it is where she first began taking Luca for socialization and exercise.
The prohibition of dogs off-leash is encouraged by those concerned with environmental factors, protection of migratory bird species at certain times of the year, and the safety of children on the nearby playground.
Coun. Zac de Vries, who voted in favour of the rule change on Sept. 27, told Black Press Media it is important to apply a comprehensive approach while balancing the needs of a diverse range of park users.
“I encourage everyone to participate in the People, Pets, and Parks strategy development, no matter what side of the argument they’re on,” he said. “We recognize the need for off-leash play coupled with the need for people to feel safe, as well as environmental considerations.”
Coun. Colin Plant, who voted against the rule change, called it a very challenging situation given the division in the community around this issue. He voted against the bylaw change not because he was opposed to the leashing of dogs on the beach, he said, but because he did not think it was the appropriate time to lift the prohibition rule that had existed for more than 40 years.
“I would have preferred the status quo until the People, Pets and Parks process is complete,” Plant said.
Council endorsed the People, Pets and Parks terms of reference in August, and directed staff to contract a qualified proponent to create the strategy. Find more information at saanich.ca under the Parks heading, then select parks, trails and amenities.
To read about the petition visit change.org/p/keep-cadboro-gyro-beach-off-leash.
Editor’s Note: This article has been changed from an earlier version to clarify Saanich Coun. Colin Plant’s objection to the motion.