Letters To the Board, Post

Re: Cadboro Bay Beach Usage

To: Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association

People and dogs must behave well within their communities: People respect other people and the shared environment and, as dogs are attached to people, they too need to respect people and the shared environment. As no person or animal is perfect, tolerance and understanding are two traits that will build communities and keep them together.

1. SHOREBIRDS.

Shorebirds feed when the tide is low, not high, and as dogs and people walk in all tides, many times there will be no shorebirds for the dogs to chase. Most dogs don’t chase shorebirds, and owners of dogs that are so inclined, leash their dogs when shorebirds are present. Does it happen? Yes, occasionally shorebirds are disrupted but not continuously or routinely. Are dogs the only disruptors? No, especially in the summer when skim boarders, skidoo’s, and people frolicking in the shallows can disrupt the shorebirds, but neither the human or canine element is incessant. Thankfully shorebirds are smart and the Cadboro Bay Beach (“the Beach”) is long. The birds vacate the summer-popular Ten Mile Point end of the Beach and go to the less popular RVYC end. Learned etiquette also plays a role. A case in point; about a month ago, a new dog walker from afar arrived on the Beach with an energetic dog. When it was noticed that her dog had a tendency to chase after birds, fellow dog walkers politely advised that this was not acceptable. She understood and has found a different place to walk her dog.

2. (DOG) WALKERS, KDMD & LET’S HAVE FUN!

In the cool and sometimes harsh winter days, a few hardy dog walkers brave the elements but come summer when the weather is fine, many enjoy the “dog end” of the Beach, aptly named due to the summer dog closure of Gyro Park and the rest of the Beach. There are three distinct summer groups: The “walkers”, many with their canine companion, arrive for their morning exercise walk. It’s a tight knit community who are off the Beach by about 10:00 am. Then come the “KDMD” – kids, dogs, mums and dads. They choose their spot, get out the beach toys and towels, sometimes little tents, open the picnic basket and enjoy a day at the Beach often with the family dog, usually returning home before dinner. Later in the day and often into the evening, the “let’s have fun!” contingent of youth arrive. They are at the Beach to socialise – laughing, playing spike ball, throwing a ball around, singing, enjoying music are all part of the fun, and yes, the family dog is playing too. Some “dog-less” visitors come to the Beach just to enjoy the company the dogs. The joy is palpable – everybody, including the dogs, are having fun. It’s a pleasurable, beautiful place for the community as a whole to enjoy and not surprisingly, it’s popular. Due to the summer closure of the rest of the Beach, the activities can be concentrated, but if it was too noisy, full of unruly dogs and people flaunting unacceptable behaviour, it would not attract so many people, but thankfully, this is not the case. These three groups, all in their own way, share a culture of joy, mutual respect, appreciation of the aesthetics and acceptance of each other. This inclusive Beach culture has been with us for a long time, but like all cultures, it is delicate and care must be taken to preserve it.

(Please note: Not included in this discussion are the raucous UVIC students who party in the Spring and Autumn evenings, often requiring police intervention.)

3. 100 YEARS OF ENJOYMENT OF THE BEACH  

Having grown up enjoying the Beach, I can confirm the activities of the three groups noted above having been part of all three, with my dog at the time, over the years. But the enjoyment of the Beach goes back at least 100 years. In the 1920’s, my mother used to enjoy a day’s outing riding her horse through the undeveloped Uplands, down to the Beach to have lunch ($1.25 see below) at the Cadboro Bay Beach Hotel. The following is a quote from Glen A. Mofford’s book, A Journey Back to the Historical Hotels of Vancouver Island, attests to the longevity of the Beach culture:

The newly renovated Cadboro Beach Hotel officially opened for the season on April 25, 1920. The hotel had a capacity for seventy-five guests and the dining room and lounge each offered the warmth from a large stone fireplace. Every room came with a lovely view overlooking the bay. Imagine having a tea or a smoke on the large hotel veranda while watching the children play on the beach or during a warm summer night enjoying the moonlight as its reflective glow draws across the bay making the water dance and sparkle. The opening was announced earlier in the day in the Victoria Colonist, ‘Cadboro Beach Hotel Opens Today; Afternoon teas, soda fountain, ice cream, sundaes, etc ~ lunch $1.25, dinner $1.50…Stuart and Frances M. Armour, Managers, formally with the Hotel Department of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.’

4. COVID

We are in unusual times: The Covid virus caused the closure of many dog friendly Provincial Parks from 8 April to 14 May and the UVIC “dog park” is still closed, making Cadboro Bay Beach the closest alternative. In addition, many are furloughed and schools are closed which contributes to the unusually high usage of the Beach, but as things return to normal the demand for this space will lessen. In the meantime, due to higher density and the many “newcomers” who may not be well versed in the Beach etiquette, there may be increased noise levels and some “new” dogs that may not be as well behaved as the old timers. As with all anomalies, a little understanding by all is required. The knock-on effects of density will likely not continue as things normalize.    

5. NOISE

Never can I recall a violation of Saanich Bylaw No. 7059 (see below) for the abatement and control of noise. This doesn’t mean it has never happened, but it’s rare.  

Section 5. DOGS

(a)  The sound made by a dog barking, howling or creating any kind of sound continually or sporadically or erratically for any period of time in excess of ten minutes is, in the opinion of Council, an objectionable noise.

(b)  It shall be unlawful for any person to harbour or keep a dog which shall make an objectionable noise by barking, howling or creating any kind of sound continually or sporadically or erratically for any period of time in excess of ten minutes.

6. COMMUNITY STEWARDSHIP    

Those who regularly walk the Beach, with or without their canine companions, care for the Beach. As well as diligently picking up “poop”, they pick up litter, plastics, tin cans, glass, and other paraphernalia. The mornings after a warm summer’s eve of frolicking, the Beach finds itself in need of a cleanup and the walkers gladly take on the responsibility. When chunks of fiberglass, mattresses, countertops and other debris come ashore from boats washed up on the Beach, it’s these regular morning walkers who move the debris, sometimes including derelict canoes and dinghies to the trash bins for the Saanich waste control to dispose of.

7. NEIGHBOURS

The Beach has always been a close community and has spawned a distinct culture. It’s well known as a place for people, their children and their pets. But who “owns” the Beach?  Typically, the provincial government has jurisdiction over the foreshore where most people walk, that is, the area between the low water level and the natural (high tide) boundary. Above the high tide line where all the logs are, is municipal jurisdiction and below the low water level is federal. (Often the municipal and provincial jurisdiction have sub agreements, and this may be the case with Cadboro Bay. I’m not sure) Where the Beach ends and the land begins is a natural boundary beyond which, in the case of Cadboro Bay, lies Gyro Park and private Beach houses. The public is privileged to have use of the foreshore held by these three crown entities, and those in adjacent Beach houses are privileged to have unimpeded access to and from any point along the natural boundary of their property to the Beach. One of the privileges of being in BC are the “public” beaches, and Cadboro Bay is no exception. It’s there for everyone to share.    

8. THE COMMUNITY

For about a century the community, the various government bodies and Beach house owners have co-existed. The Beach has attracted children, parents, grandparents, old and young alike, many with their pets. Children play, enjoy the water, make sand castles, have a nap. Youth socialise, play guitars, sing, have fun and make friends. Mums and Dads take well needed breaks. The elderly enjoy meeting with long-time friends and making new ones. There is the sound of joy and of frolic, sometimes late into the evening. And yes, dogs bark, children scream, music is played and laughter abounds. In winter the Beach may be sunny and silent or the winds may howl for hours on end, louder than any voice, tossing heavy logs like matchsticks, spraying salt everywhere, but even so, a hardy dog walker will inevitably be present. It’s all part of life on the Beach. No matter which of these activities attract people to this environment, the common element is the therapeutic benefit of joy, shared by all, including those with four legs and wagging tails.

9. CONCLUSION

On the Beach, different activities can be enjoyed by different groups all year around. Sharing and mutual understanding are part of life on the Beach, and both residents and dog walkers need to respect this long – established culture. There will occasionally be breaches by all parties, but with a little tolerance and understanding, life as we know it on Cadboro Bay Beach will prevail.  

It’s a privilege to walk and live on the Beach, but with this privilege comes responsibility and I am convinced that community responsibility and mutual respect will see us through any temporary concerns. There is no need for invasive rules and restrictions. The community as a whole understands. Dog walkers, KDMD’s, and youth socialisation are as much a part of life on Cadboro Bay Beach as the lovely Beach houses, a calm, quiet Autumn evening and the crashing waves of a winter storm. Thankfully it all comes with the territory, and how lucky we all are to have this territory to share.

Thank you for listening.

Bruce Homer

Cadboro Bay Road [address and email address supplied] 

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