Dogs: District-Wide Strategy Approved, Gyro Park Safe Access Pathways Postponed

At the June 14 Special Council Meeting, Saanich unanimously approved “People, Parks and Dogs: A District-Wide Strategy for Sharing Saanich’s Parks.” The next step is for Saanich Staff to develop an approach and return to Council with options and recommendations, likely in Fall 2021.

Input from Councillors and staff, including remarks from Parks, Trails and Recreation Committee Chair Judy Brownoff, emphasized that a district-wide strategy would be broad, inclusive and thorough. It will span all of Saanich’s 170 parks and its many beaches and fields. Council recognized this will require a long process but done right with strong public engagement, it will yield meaningful and sustainable outcomes.

Questions remain for citizens bewildered by the postponement of approved safe access pathways in Cadboro-Gyro Park. On May 17 Saanich Council approved two designated pathways for leashed dog-walking in the spring and summer. Instead, on May 31 implementation was postponed and an enforcement and information-gathering campaign by Animal Control was launched.

While CBRA has encouraged increased enforcement of harmful behaviours, this new enforcement activity has caused significant distress for many dog-owning citizens facing exclusion from the park.

Saanich staff confirmed that any emails from the public related to the enforcement campaign at Cadboro-Gyro Park were not included in the Public Correspondence posted with the agenda for the June 14 meeting. Mayor Fred Haynes asserted that dog-related issues at Cadboro-Gyro Park were separate from the “People, Parks and Dogs” agenda item discussed June 14.

CBRA presented its letter to Saanich Council, however urgent improvements to ensure safe accessibility and clear signage continue to be postponed. Council is awaiting information from Animal Control, prior to implementing the approved designated pathways. This information is anticipated to be returned to Council mid-July for consideration.

CBRA’s support for the two designated pathways was motivated by the fundamental need for safe stable access pathways and clear signage in time for spring/summer 2021. It was noted that other information and process is anticipated to impact Cadboro-Gyro dog restrictions in the future (Link to CBRA’s recommendations). On May 17, Council had acknowledged that many people walking leashed dogs are people with limited mobility, seniors and families with children and strollers who depend on flat stable pathways for safe transiting and access to parking and washrooms.

For now, dogs remain banned from all of Cadboro-Gyro Park. Poor signage and spotty enforcement over the years had resulted in limited awareness of the park-wide dog ban. For clarity: during the restricted period, May 1 to Aug 31 after 9 a.m.:

  • Dogs are banned from the entire park area. There are no paved or gravel pathways available for use by the public walking dogs. Families with dogs may not access the parking lot, the washrooms, the grassy areas, the picnic tables, benches or the garbage cans in the park if they are accompanied by a dog.
  • Dogs are also banned from all beach areas west of the outfall during the restricted period.
  • The section of beach east of the outfall remains dog-friendly. It can be accessed by the pathway at the foot of Tudor Avenue only, where there is also one garbage can.

Signs have also been posted to advise that dogs are not to be permitted to chase birds. Saanich bylaws require that dogs are under control at all times, that owners dispose of any feces immediately, and that excessive barking is not permitted. Annual dog licenses must be purchased for all dogs over the age of four months.

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