We write with concern about the CBRA’s “urgent” request that Saanich Council remove or alter the 42-year May-through-August summer canine prohibition in Cadboro Bay Gyro Park.
For years, the spring-and-summer dog prohibition, while not universally obeyed, has been protecting children, families and the elderly from hazards associated with dogs. It has protected children on the iconic Caddy sculptures and in the recently-expanded playground. It has also helped shield families and children in the picnic areas. It has helped to protect the elderly. And it has minimized the amount of noise, barking in particular. It may have also protected against altercations between owners and irate park users, who otherwise would have been inconvenienced or offended by unwanted dog encounters.
The CBRA has asked that the four-month prohibition be altered to allow leashed dogs to transit the park, to provide easier access to a short section of beach which has become immensely popular with dog walkers. It’s the East section of Cadboro Bay Beach, also known as the “dog-beach”.
CBRA also cites a need for dog-walkers with limited mobility to avail themselves of the park’s hard pathways. So they can enjoy the views and the park ambience while walking their pets. And apparently, also access the dog beach. A seemingly wonderful idea. We will only observe that the CBRA offers no solid information on the number of mobility-challenged dog owners who want that privilege. An oversight, we are sure. Perhaps that could still be provided to Council. And for this sector of the dog-walking community, there may be other solutions.
The CBRA request was put forward despite the Federal Government’s current initiative to evaluate the impact of dogs on migratory birds at all the South Island Federal Bird sanctuaries, including Cadboro Bay. Which has included an invitation to Saanich to collaborate in protecting migratory birds. To assist in the endeavor, a Federally-commissioned report on the impact of dogs on wildlife in the Sanctuaries is nearing completion. Its release is imminent. This report and the policy that flows from it will have a major impact on dog control practices on Cadboro Bay’s beaches.
That ‘major impact’ will include a serious challenge to the continued use of the East beach as a ‘dog run’. Even the most conservative interpretation of existing Sanctuary regulations will require more stringent dog-control measures than at present. Wherein migratory birds, gulls and herons remain unprotected. Those measures will render the East beach less attractive as a region-wide destination. Which in turn, and this is important, will reduce the demand for access to the East Beach, and eliminate the need to alter Park bylaws for it.
We submit that the CBRA’s request to alter this long-standing bylaw is both untimely and unnecessary.
Furthermore we fear that rather than alleviate tensions in the local community, Council’s compliance with this request will lead to further division. And result in more, not less conflict in Gyro park.
Sincerely, [Names Redacted]