Greater Victoria biologist Jacques Sirois hopes to educate residents about the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the need to keep dogs leashed on local beaches. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

‘Give the beach a chance’: Biologist talks benefits of Saanich off-leash dog bylaw review

It’s not about being anti-dog but about ‘celebrating the natural environment’

Greater Victoria biologist Jacques Sirois feels banning unleashed dogs from Saanich beaches would help preserve the region’s natural environment.

Coun. Karen Harper submitted a report last month calling for a review of Saanich’s policies that permit off-leash dogs on beaches – which she pointed out were more than 20 years old.

The topic was up for discussion in a Feb. 24 council meeting that was dominated by public input.

READ ALSO: Councillor calls for review of off-leash dogs on Saanich beaches

Sirois, on Oak Bay resident and member of the Friends of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, was one of the dozens who spoke at the meeting. While many residents spoke against the bylaw review, several agreed with Sirois that it would be beneficial.

It’s a complicated issue that has a long history and requires a “reasonable conversation about how we deal with our beautiful public spaces” and change local beach culture, he explained.

The “pristine natural areas” are what draws people to Greater Victoria and need to be taken care of, Sirois explained. He pointed out that while there are many threats to local beaches such as littering and pollution, dogs have become an increasing problem over the last 30 to 40 years.

READ ALSO: Public input regarding off-leash dogs on Saanich beaches dominates council meeting

Situations involving pets make people very emotional, Sirois said, noting that he’s been a dog owner and understands. However, he emphasized that Saanich’s current off-leash dog bylaws contradict the federal government’s policies for migratory bird sanctuaries. The Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary (VHMBS) – established in 1923 – is one of three in the region and spans five municipalities from View Royal to Saanich.

The VHMBS protects the diverse wildlife in the area and prohibits loose pets but has been “largely forgotten in recent decades,” Sirois explained. This, he feels, is because it’s not well-enforced and because there are five local governments in the area making their own bylaws for beach use.

READ ALSO: Saanich dog walkers react to potential review of bylaws allowing off-leash dogs on beaches

Sirois was pleased to see that Harper understood the complicated aspects of the issue. For him, supporting the bylaw review is not about being anti-dog, but rather about protecting and “celebrating the natural environment.” He feels it’s a necessary part of the restoration process, and that the creation of official dog parks would help maintain the natural areas.

“Give the beach a chance,” he said.

Council will make a decision about the report during the March 2 meeting without further public input but correspondence will be accepted until noon on the day of the meeting.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

beachesDistrict of SaanichDogsSaanich

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary was established in 1923 and spans five municipalities from View Royal to Saanich. (Regional Migratory Bird Sanctuaries/Capital Regional District)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

New space secured for Sooke homeless

The shelter will be ready for residents on July 20

Victoria archery club says goodbye to outdoor range in View Royal

Province-owned View Royal property will house handyDART facility

Hotel workers gather in Victoria, demand right to return to work

Workers also asking the government to make sure employers don’t use pandemic to replace them

Sooke homeless camp to stay until a solution is found

To forbid Ed Macgregor camp would go against Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

Elizabeth May endorses Furstenau in BC Greens race

Former federal party leader backs Cowichan Valley MLA

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Most Read