On Aug. 16 Saanich council supported the terms of reference for People, Pets and Parks: A District Wide Strategy. I offer the perspective of a large portion of our park community.
In the July 5 meeting of Saanich council, the mayor stated that the community wanted the People, Pets & Parks: a District Wide Strategy for Saanich Parks. This is not the case. The first outcry from nearly 600 people at the May 31 council meeting was largely asking council to leave things as they are and to ensure any change put forward is based on evidence not anecdote.
The People, Pets & Parks: a District Wide Strategy for Saanich Parks, its nearly $200,000 cost and its impact on the other work of Saanich is a creation of council, not of the community.
This community is very concerned that there is a ‘dogs are the only issue’ bias in the documents and comments offered to and by Saanich council – just changing the word ‘dogs’ to ‘pets’ doesn’t change the implication. As was pointed out at the time, renaming the bias does not change the fact of the bias.
Many continue to believe this project is not necessary or wanted by the vast majority of Saanich residents. Council, however, seems to be determined to move ahead. To have any hope of resolving this now growing issue, the project needs to include an external reference or advisory group, not just district staff, be evidence-based and reflect the needs of who is actually in our parks, when, why and how often. Any successful strategy needs to reflect reality, not supposition.