Re: Dogs on the Beach – and CBRA governance

Dear CBRA, 

I seem to keep missing the meetings due simply to unfortunate conflict between my schedule and the CBRA schedule. I am around most of the time…
I want to comment on the letter that was sent to Saaninch and what I see as significant misalignment between CBRA’s mission (to represent residents of Cadboro Bay) and CBRA’s board’s actions. I do not feel that the dog on a beach issue as represented in the letter in any way can claim to adequately reflect the opinions of the residents of Cadboro Bay. 

The evidence cited in the letter is an arbitrary collection of stories based on a very few number of people and notably, dog owners and people who currently favour the status quo. The idea that a walk around one afternoon should be presented to council as evidence of CBRA’s position is frankly preposterous. It is the opinion and agenda of a few members of the board of CBRA. It cannot claim to be more. 

What I have heard in my year on the board about “representing” the community are two things:

  • Its membership that counts – I disagree and believe that that attitude is in disagreement with our guiding principles. The top priority for the CBRA is to represent the community of Cadboro Bay, and we should not hide behind “membership” when it conveniently aligns with our wishes
  • We are doing our best at representation (with notices in the pharmacy window for example) and that is good enough. I again disagree. If an organisation that is designed to represent a constituency can not find a way (easy or hard) to adequately represent that constituency, then it must change. It certainly cannot say “well this letter that we are sending in to council” represents our constituency. It really has only actively involved less than 10 people. 

Two other points:

  • 3. Everybody has an issue they are passionate about. But board members of the CBRA must, by definition of the job, put their passions second to the job of seeking and finding representative opinions of our community. Its not always an easy thing to do but we all must be professionals in this matter. As far as I know, there is no alternative to this sequence of priorities – community representation first! 
  • 4. The modality of CBRA is sometimes one of personal opinion and conflict on development issues rather than presiding over the community’s interests as representatives. 

The above are my primary concerns.

For the sake of the dog issue, I wish to add my personal observations as a member of the Cadboro Bay community. Please note that I am not adding my personal observations as a CBRA board member, since that job involves discovering and representing the community, and we do not have anything close to adequate to do so. You can’t fake this part of the job.

  1. I live 50 metres from the entrance to the east side of the beach (where Telegraph Bay Rd starts). It is a 3 minute walk from down Telegraph bay to the beach. I have walked the beach thousands of times. I used to walk it twice a day to and fro work at UVic. I have spent many sunny days on the beach in all seasons.
  2. The east side of the beach (where I live) has never been clearly labelled as a no leash zone (or more accurately titled a “dog run”). It has never been proclaimed a “dog run” which seems to be the impression of some of even our board members. The signage as we have discussed is unclear and the signage is small and at least partially hidden.
  3. The east side of the beach is very often the only warm part of the beach – as soon as a wind comes up, any time of year, the west end of the beach is cold and unsuitable for a beach picnic. I therefore do not want the nicest part of the beach to be allocated as a dog run.
  4. Children. I have two (now 17 and 11) who have both grown up on the beach. We have had more than 100 incidents with dogs and dog owners. There is always (ALWAYS in capitals) trepidation about dogs and dog owners when we go to the beach for a picnic, sport, whatever.
  5. Incidents. There are three types of incidents, two involve dogs and one involve dog owners:
    1. Dogs come onto beach blankets and shake sand and water or worse, eat the picnic. This is not uncommon
    2. Dogs are threatening to young children who run to their parents. What is threatening? I defy you to find a parent with a toddler or kid under 5, who is happy to see their kid alone on the beach with a strange dog (lets say a rottweiler for effect). You know, dog runs at kid, kid freaks out… 
    3. Rudeness of dog owners. Of the hundreds of incidents I have experienced, perhaps the most vexing is the rudeness of dog owners. Many never look you in the eye after their dog has caused a disturbance and they talk to their dogs as though they are human. Some, are outright hostile to anybody who says anything about controlling their dogs. These are the dogs over humans owners.  
  6. Birds. I don’t believe bird sanctuaries have unleashed dogs. There are a lot of different types of birds that can use Caddy Bay as a refuge on their migratory routes. Many different types can come through just for a few weeks and in the fall winter and spring. I often see dogs chasing the herons and migratory birds. An opinion that the birds are OK and can adapt can really only come from an expert on birds and their habitat. Casual observation by dog walkers likely doesn’t provide any reasonable level of ecological knowledge into this issue. Personally, I don’t think the beach can be all things and I think having it act as a bird sanctuary might be tough (there is a lot of human traffic too).

To finish, I want to let you know, that I grew up with dogs. I have had four. They gave me a lot of love and I returned it to them. I love to see them running wild in nature. We are likely getting a dog this year. I know that dog’s can be well trained and obedient, but I am also keenly aware that most dog owners never attain a high level of control over their pets. Some none at all.

Best Regards,

Kevin Telmer

CBRA board member

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