A pair of oak leaf gates mark the Churchill Drive parking lot entrance of Mount Douglas Park. (Friends of Mount Douglas Park)

Pet owners asked to leash-up in Mount Douglas Park despite no bylaw

Off-leash dogs one reason the park is ‘going downhill,’ Saanich resident says

The Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society wants residents to know that Mount Douglas Park is not a dog park and that pups should be leashed.

“Off-leash dogs are a problem everywhere in the park,” said Darrell Wick, president of the society.

The District of Saanich has no designated dog parks but dogs are permitted in all but six of the municipality’s parks. Pet owners are simply asked to pick up after their pets, follow leash guidelines and be mindful of the environment.

READ ALSO: Review of off-leash dogs on Saanich beaches postponed until mid-July

Saanich has seasonal dog restrictions in some parks and they must be on a leash on school grounds, within 10 metres of a playground, in the Royal Oak Burial Park, on Lochside Trail near Blenkinsop Lake, in Cedar Hill Park and on the perimeter trail of Rithet’s Bog. In January, Saanich Coun. Karen Harper called for a review of the District’s bylaws regarding off-leash dogs on beaches but council’s decision was postponed until July to allow for public consultation. For now, in all other public areas, dogs must simply be under control or on a leash if needed.

Despite it not being a municipal bylaw, the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society is asking that park users leash their furry friends when on the park’s trails or on the beach, Wick explained. He pointed out that residents may be surprised to hear that it’s the friendly dogs who cause the most problems.

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

The cheerful pooches make the trails “not all-inclusive” because they greet everyone they see which can be terrifying for little kids and seniors, Wick said. He added that some parents have indicated that they won’t bring their children to the park anymore because of the off-leash dogs.

Loose dogs also cause problems when they stray off the trail, Wick said. They disturb the nesting birds in the underbrush, raise flocks of migratory birds on the beach and tear up the plants while running and playing, he explained.

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

The park is “rapidly going downhill” due to the behaviour of park users and their pets, Wick said sadly. He pointed out that individual dog owners may not see an issue with their dog running loose but in 2019, about half a million people came through the park and if everyone thought that way, there’d be nothing left.

The Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society “aren’t anti-dog, we’re pro park,” Wick said.

For more information on Saanich park “petiquette,” visit the District’s website at saanich.ca.


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