Letters To the Board, Post

Letter: CBRA off-leash dog public consultation feedback

Hello CBRA off-leash dog public consultation committee, I am a Cadboro Bay resident and just read about your committee for the first time in the Saanich News. We’ve been residents here for the last 5.5 years. I am writing to you to express my concerns to your committee, and suggest ways that you can access more local public input.

While I grew up with dogs my whole life and am a self-and-family-proclaimed animal lover, I think the eastern most section of Cadboro Bay beach should not be allowable to off-leash dogs. From my knowledge, this section of the beach has been made allowable to dogs under the bylaw revision in the 90’s but conflicts with the Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary set out in 1923, protecting many migratory seabirds and their important habitat.

Over the last 5.5 years of living in Cadboro Bay, we’ve been travelling to the beach less and less. The beach was a main draw to buy the house we are now living in and we had such wonderful dreams of walking and playing on the beach daily. Much to our disappointment, our visits have dramatically decreased because of the misbehaviour of dogs and dog owners. It is clear to me now that the attitude on this beach is that dogs are superior over other beach goers.

More than once, I have dug into dog feces while building sand castles with my kids. Dogs trample through our small play space/towels laid out, knocking over our sand creations and kicking sand up at us. Very rarely do dog owners even apologize or attempt to call their dogs back. If they do call, we hear from a distance, “he’s/she’s friendly”. It doesn’t matter if they are friendly; I don’t want an unfamiliar dog trampling right into my space and walking over my belongings. Every single visit we’ve made, there is at least one instance of a dog defacating on the beach and the owner is unaware/ walking away/ talking on the phone/ talking to other dog walkers. I always call to the owner to tell them that their pet left them a present and politely ask them to go back to pick it up. This typically happens more than once for our 1-2 hour beach play, and I consider it a good day when it only happens once. My eldest child has a fear of dogs from being charged at frequently and occasionally knocked down when I couldn’t get to him in time, because we used to visit the beach often.

Most importantly, this beach is within the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It is a tragedy how many times we’ve seen dogs chasing protected birds and shorebirds who are feeding, resting or nesting, with no efforts to be called back or restrained by owners. We watch it happen all the time and I have collected several photos. Please have a look at the Government of Canada’s site explaining the importance of this sanctuary. https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/migratory-bird-sanctuaries/locations/victoria-harbour.html#toc2 It explicitly states: “Dogs or cats must not be allowed to run at large inside Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.”. There is absolutely no enforcement happening along this beach, and Environment Canada’s Game Officers are instructed not to patrol this section because of the confusion with dog allowance. If dogs are allowed on this beach, there should be more patrol, not less or none.

It is also quite confusing and problematic when dog owners cut through the playground area where dogs are not allowed. Many are not leashed or even held by their collars, and not under effective control. Once a few dogs are spotted travelling in those areas, many others follow suit because they think it’s allowed. I’ve even seen dogs tied up to playground equipment. Many dogs, with their owners, also walk along the section of beach not permitted to dogs. I believe because not many people bother to read the signage posted and they assume because it’s known as a “dog beach”, dogs are allowed through the whole stretch. Just last week, I was walking towards Hibben’s Close beach stairway, after having passed the playground, when a dog owner went by with an off leash dog. When I politely said “Hi, just thought I would let you know that this section of the beach is off limits to dogs”, I got an “Oh well” reply. If dogs were not allowed along the whole section of the beach’s Migratory Bird Sanctuary, there would be less confusion overall.

Living about 150m from the dog beach access off of Telegraph Bay/Cadboro Bay Rd., I am disappointed that I have not had any contact from the CBRA committee by mail. I suggest that you add in a slip of paper into houses around the area asking for their personal feedback, observations and experiences.

I realize that there are many dog owners and lovers in Cadboro Bay and throughout Victoria (I do love dogs, too!), and many travel from other municipalities to visit our self-proclaimed “dog beach” so my opinion is likely the minority. However, dogs need to be leashed at a minimum, and ideally not allowed along the whole stretch of Cadboro Bay beach. It is the environmental impact and the importance of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary that really needs be focused on.
Thank you for your time and putting my voice forward within the CBRA and the Saanich Council.
Jenny Nanninga

Cadboro Bay Resident

Leave a Reply