At 11:45 p.m. Mayor and Council wrapped up a lengthy agenda that continued discussion on Cadboro-Gyro Park/Beach dog restrictions and the development of a Saanich-wide dog strategy.
In the public correspondence submitted on Cadboro-Gyro/Park (Agenda Item #5), significant fatigue was expressed in a number of the letters from community members, with some noting that public input has been repeated or scattered over many meetings spanning the past year and a half.
And there will be more meetings to come. Council referred the June 30 Briefing Note by the Saanich Police (Animal Control) to Saanich Staff. Staff will prepare a report with recommendations to be returned to Council. While this decision passed unanimously it followed after significant discussion and requests for clarification.
Mayor and Council deliberated whether to ‘endorse’ the recommendations of Police as part of the referral to staff, however it was ultimately decided that the referral would be made without endorsement so that Saanich staff, police, bylaw and other departments could collaborate on appropriate and enforceable recommendations.
Inspector Darryl Harris of the Saanich Police commented that it is ‘easier’ to enforce an ‘on-leash’ bylaw compared to an ‘under-control’ bylaw because leashing is objectively observable. However, Harris noted that enforcement is limited generally by resource constraints. Currently, two full-time, one auxiliary, and one vacant Animal Control officer are dedicated to animal bylaw enforcement district-wide. As this includes 170 parks, dedication to a single park is not practical.
Harris also responded to a question from Council about the prohibition of dogs in Cadboro-Gyro Park (May 1 to Aug 31). In the Briefing Note, Police recommended that dogs be permitted on-leash throughout the entirety of Gyro Park. However, in a late amendment sent to Council at 10:40 a.m. on the day of the Council meeting (July 5), Saanich Police indicated this change should not be made “now” due to lack of enforcement resources. Harris said that if bylaws were changed to allow dogs to be walked on-leash this summer, it could be expected that a greater number of people will walk dogs in the park and the volume of complaints could also increase, which Animal Control is not resourced to handle. The Police made no mention of having heard or considered any public input (other than complaints), and Council did not make any reference to pleas from the public for safe and inclusive accessibility.
The Chief Administrative Officer said that it is unknown when the anticipated Federal Report will be available regarding dogs in the Victoria Harbor Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS). The MBS area includes Cadboro Bay Beach below the high-tide line, with regulations that are enforceable by Federal Canada Wildlife Services Officers. Correspondence from Federal staff is included in the Police Briefing Note.
Members of Council acknowledged that the Federal MBS added jurisdictional complexity and that the public is experiencing significant confusion. Councilor Plant emphasized that as long as the Federal Government continues to designate Cadboro Beach as an MBS, rules should be harmonized to meet the recommendations of Federal staff (leashing within the MBS) while also recognizing enforcement capability.
As for the Municipal Wide Dog Strategy, “Option 2” was unanimously approved. Council also directed Staff to re-name the strategy to People, Pets and Parks, a District-Wide Strategy for Sharing Saanich Parks.
CBRA’s study of dog restrictions at Cadboro-Gyro Park/Beach can be viewed here.
Previous Update From June 30 2021:
Saanich Council will resume deliberation on the topic of dogs at Cadboro-Gyro Park and Beach on Monday July 5 at 7pm. Please review the agenda to access all reports and instructions on how to participate.
The agenda contains two topics related to dogs: #5 is specific to Cadboro-Gyro Park/Beach, and #6 relates to the Municipal Wide Dog Strategy and public consultation process.
For Cadboro-Gyro Park/Beach, Saanich Police provided a Briefing Note containing background, issues, actions taken, and recommendations. Police recommendations are summarized below:
- Amend bylaws applicable to Cadboro Bay Beach to align them with Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) Regulations. In the Briefing Note, Saanich Police indicated that this could be achieved through requiring dogs to be leashed on the beach. The Canadian Wildlife Service clarified that ‘continuous and effective control‘ of an animal within an MBS involves use of “typical restraints such as a leash, transport carriage or cage, attaching them to a static object, holding tightly on the animal’s collar, or holding the animal in the owner’s arms.” (Briefing Note Page 5, and refer to letter in Appendix 2). This change would amend Animals Bylaw 13.5(a) to align with MBS Regulation 5(1).
- Amend bylaws in Cadboro-Gyro Park so that dogs may be walked on-leash throughout the entirety of the park on a standard, non-extending leash only. This further amends 13.5(a).
- As interpreted: Do not proceed with earlier contemplated bylaw amendments to allow transiting of leashed dogs through the park on designated pathways, May 1-Aug 31. Saanich Police noted this is not required if Recommendation #2 is adopted.
- Create clear and consistent signage through collaboration between Saanich Parks staff, Saanich Police staff and the Canadian Wildlife Service (Federal).
- Require collaboration between Saanich Parks, Saanich Bylaw and Saanich Police prior to any proposed amendment to any section of the Saanich Animals Bylaw.
For Agenda Item #6 – Suzanne Samborski, Director Parks, provided a report containing background information on the proposed Saanich-wide dog strategy that will enable Council to make an informed decision about the scope of the project and the extent of public engagement to be carried out.
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Public input correspondence is also accepted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or received in the Municipal Hall mailbox up until noon on the day of the meeting.