Letters To the Board, Post

Re: Concerns regarding off leash dogs on Cadboro Beach

Dear Cadboro Bay Residents Association,

We are writing to express our concerns with the issues related to off leash dogs on Cadboro Beach. In the ten days since May 1, we have witnessed a significant increase in activity, which is to be expected given the closure of Willows Beach to dogs and the seasonal restriction after 9:00am for the western Gyro Beach portion of Cadboro Bay. The increased use by off leash dogs of the eastern unrestricted portion of Cadboro Beach is problematic because, unfortunately, a portion of dog owners continue to behave in an entitled and irresponsible manner, despite the recent publicity of community concerns. Below is small sampling of recent incidents we have observed, which have supporting video and photographic evidence.

  • May 4, 2020: A heron is repeatedly chased by three separate off leash dogs. Owners all observed their dogs chasing the heron down the beach and then again as they came back and did not make any attempts to call or restrain their dogs. (Video available)
  • May 5, 2020: A young girl playing in the sand is upset and crying after being jumped on by an off leash dog. (Photo available)
  • May 7, 2020: Multiple piles of dog feces are left behind. (Photos available)
  • May 10, 2020: A woman with a Samoyed Husky walks up and down the beach throwing stones to her barking dog. The dog barks non stop for the entire hour, as it does every time she visits (4-5 times per week). She is approached separately by two people who politely ask her to minimize the barking and she adamantly refuses and says it is her right to make as much noise as she wants on the “dog beach” and anyone who is bothered should just leave. (Video available)
  • May 10, 2020: A man watches his dog defecate in the ocean where multiple people are swimming and skim boarding. He makes no attempt to stop or move his dog or collect the waste. Children nearby are disgusted and leave the water and refuse to go back in. His dog then runs through beach grass and tramples a family picnic and won’t come to repeated calls so he has to physically retrieve it by the collar and drag it down the beach. (Photos available)
  • May 11, 2020: A mother is breastfeeding her baby while sitting on a beach log. A group of six large off leash dogs run and jump around her, wrestling, sniffing her and her baby and kicking sand. She is clearly bothered but the dog owners make no attempt to call or remove their dogs. One of them shouts from a distance that “they’re friendly”. Another dog then comes and begins to dig a large hole right beside her, kicking sand on her. As the owner walks by ignoring his dog’s behaviour, the mother politely asks if he could move his dog “just a bit further away” and he tells her this is the “dog beach” and if she doesn’t want to be around dogs she can move down to the other end. (Photo available)

Many dog owners argue that these are one-off isolated incidents. But how many isolated incidents does it take before we admit there is a problem?

Beachfront residents have been given a bad rap for expressing their concerns about the impact of off leash dogs. It is true that you can visit Cadboro Beach many times throughout the day and observe a peaceful setting, whether crowded or not, where dogs and their owners are well behaved. However, this does not mean that there are not serious and ongoing problems that are being witnessed far too frequently. As beachfront residents, we are able to act as custodians of this natural treasure and advocate for its responsible enjoyment and protection.

It is also true that there are other issues in Cadboro Bay that people point to as being of equal or greater importance than dogs, including derelict boats, loud parties and construction noise. However, none of these negates the fact that we have multiple ongoing problems related to off leash dogs, including wildlife harassment, pollution of sand and water with feces, degradation of protected flora, trespass and damage to private property, excessive noise due to barking and repeated calls, and injuries to people and other dogs.

Although large as a group, individual dog owners using the beach for a short time (often one hour or less) only bear witness to a fraction of the dog activities that occur on any given day. Whereas beachfront homeowners (which are much smaller in number as a group) bear witness to the bulk of the dog activities that occur (both positive and negative) over the course of the day from dawn through dusk. Thus, it is these residents who are best positioned to comment on the current nature of dog activity and identify problems that are arising on a consistent basis.

If the CBRA represents the entire community, this must include people with concerns, even if they appear to be the minority. If a quiet residential street was being used as a high speed shortcut for commuter traffic for one hour each day, you might only have a handful of residents concerned about the dangers, and a large number of commuters who wished to retain the status quo of their shortcut. This doesn’t mean the majority overrides the safety concerns of the minority. It is important to examine the issue on its merits.

Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.

Ramona Johnston and Aaron Papps
Cadboro Bay Road

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