Saanich’s leave-a-bag, take-a-bag policy for dog waste in several parks is working quietly in the background.
Eva Riccius, Saanich’s senior park manager, said she has not heard any complaints from the public. “People have gotten used to it,” said Riccius.
Saanich about three months ago decided that it would no longer fill dog waste dispensers in nine parks, citing budgetary concerns.
“When we looked at the budget, it [the purchase of dog waste bags] was not really sustainable,” said Riccius in May. The move would save Saanich $10,000 a year. “Like most responsible dog owners, you will leave your house with a dog bag or two,” she said.
The tubes that dispensed the bags have remained in place as Saanich adopted a take-a-bag, leave-a-bag system designed to help residents deal with emergencies.
Saanich’s initial decision to suspend the program sparked a small but intense exchange on social media about the responsibilities of dog ownership, as well as the financial and practical merits of the program. It applied to nine out of Saanich’ 171 parks.
“It really is simple, carrying bags on your walk with Fido is part of responsible dog ownership,” said Steve Corner on Facebook. “$10,000 may seem like a small sum, but it all adds up to the burden on the tax payers. The [money] could be better spent on public safety issues.”
Others considered the termination of the program penny-wise, pound-foolish. “They’ll pull poop bags but waste millions on bike lanes or other ridiculous things,” wrote Gary Insley on Facebook. “Keeping dog poo out of parks is both a health and safety issue.”
Wee Selkie agreed. “Look forward to stinky poo filled parks, poo on your shoes, and poo for your children to run through.”
Riccius said Saanich has not received any complaints about left behind dog waste in the parks that used to dispense bags.
The emotional nature of this issue had become apparent earlier this year, after a bystander had observed a man stuffing his pockets with dog bags from a dispenser near Broadmead Village Shopping Centre, prompting a letter with a photo being sent to the Saanich News.