June 11, 2021
Dear Mayor and Council,
I am writing on behalf of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association concerning the upcoming Special Council Agenda Meeting of June 14, 2021 (Agenda item E.2), PEOPLE, PARKS, AND DOGS: A DISTRICT-WIDE STRATEGY FOR SHARING SAANICH’S PARKS. We view with interest the report of Councillor de Vries and Council Harper dated May 21, 2021, and the recommendation within, of a District-Wide strategy for the sharing of Saanich’s parks.
Our organization has been immersed in this issue for the last 15 months. Whether Council votes to adopt the proposed plan of hiring a consultant to develop a park-sharing strategy or elects to continue with the plans which staff has produced for a pop-up dog park study, or chooses another direction entirely, we respectfully request that Council move forward immediately with the following at Cadboro-Gyro Park:
- Final reading of the by-law amendment permitting leashed dogs to transit through Cadboro-Gyro Park on designated pathways, and;
- Clear signage indicating the by-laws.
These items were already approved at the May 17, 2021, Special Council Meeting, as recommended by Saanich’s Parks, Trails and Recreation Advisory Committee. On May 31, 2021, Council voted to postpone reading of the bylaws—the final step required to implement the approved access pathways. The CBRA has heard from many residents who are confused and frustrated by this further delay, and who are now excluded from using any of the safe and stable access paths available in Cadboro-Gyro Park.
A delay will cause residents and visitors to face uncertainty and exclusion through the spring and summer seasons. Moving forward now will provide the opportunity to create level and safe routes for on-leash dogs and their people during the summer months. It will also provide an opportunity for enforcement to gather information on the amendment’s impact in improving overall compliance.
These are pressing issues of safety. Now that a campaign has begun for by-law officers to strictly enforce the dog ban for those transiting with dogs on leash on pathways, the CBRA has received numerous messages from distressed residents who feel they are being denied safe access to the beach and facilities such as the restrooms. Concerns are based on mobility, safe transit, accessible parking and availability of washroom facilities.
Additionally, the recent intensification of enforcement has highlighted confusing signage, mixed messaging and lack of knowledge and education regarding park rules. These two modifications would allow Council time to consider whichever course they choose while diminishing the risk of injury to park users. Once any study or project is complete, the resulting strategy can amend or override these modest changes.
While we understand the desire for a thoughtful process forward, safety should be a priority. The current situation of pedestrians with leashed dogs having to navigate a busy road without integrated sidewalks nor marked and controlled crossings is a recipe for disaster and could have consequences far more difficult to mitigate than any additional by-law adjustments or signage changes that might be deemed necessary after a trial period.
Whatever way forward is chosen by Council, we recommend Council, staff, consultants, and residents consider the information and options contained in the CBRA report, Dog Restrictions at Cadboro Bay Beach, as presented to Council on August 31, 2020. Councillors deVries and Harper indicate, in their May 21, 2021, report, that emotions surrounding Cadboro Bay Park and other Saanich parks have run high. In reading the hundreds of comments received through the study and survey, it is clear this intensity of response and resulting conflict is because our parks play a crucial role in our community members’ well-being and happiness.
Please contact me if you have any questions or comments before the meeting. The CBRA looks forward to supporting Saanich in having safe, healthy, and accessible parks.
Liz Miller, BA, LLB
Chair, Cadboro Bay Residents Association