Residents of Saanich, especially those who took the time to participate in the People, Pets and Parks strategy, I wish to clarify why I voted in opposition to the Saanich’s People Pets and Parks (PPP) bylaw on Oct. 6.
It is not because I oppose improved management of dogs in our public parks. It is because the revised bylaw amendments resulted in a reduction of environmental protection in our ecologically sensitive natural areas.
Our relationship with the First Nations, including the WSANEC and Lekwungen people is very important to me. This letter, sent to all of council in June, stated their position and support of PPP: “The WSANEC Leadership Council is concerned about the degradation of ecologically sensitive areas of PKOLS, caused by off-leash dog walking and off-trail use by dogs in native ecosystems.”
Saanich’s PPP process was conducted fairly with multiple opportunities for input. I, along with my colleagues on council, unanimously approved the PPP recommendations on June 28.
I expected the amendments to receive three readings when they were brought back to council on Sept. 11. Unfortunately I was unable to participate in this meeting due to an urgent personal matter. Instead, council chose to pause the decision for two weeks, allowing an opportunity for lobbying of some of my colleagues including meetings and correspondence not shared with all of council.
On Sept. 25, I voted in opposition to a series of alternative bylaw amendments that were not supported by the PPP strategy recommendations council had approved and had no opportunity for public input.
Saanich residents, regardless of your position on the issue of dogs in parks, I am concerned about the decision-making process used here. I hope that with monitoring we can strengthen this bylaw in the future.
With climate change, density and habitat fragmentation, etc. we must increase protection in our parks for future generations of people and wildlife. I am deeply saddened to say that this decision of council has eroded the trust of many of our residents.
Protect what you love for now and tomorrow.