Jerry Donaldson, the self-proclaimed Cadboro Bay Dog Walker, and his “pack” enjoy a morning on Cadboro Bay beach. (Black Press Media file photo)

Public consultation of off-leash dogs on Saanich beaches continues despite COVID-19

Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association conducting the study, gathering community feedback

The Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association (CBRA) is moving forward with a public consultation on Saanich’s off-leash dog bylaws despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The topic of loose dogs on beaches is a contentious one in Saanich. In early March, postponed a decision regarding whether or not to review the District’s bylaws for off-leash dogs on beaches to allow the CBRA time to conduct community consultation.

Despite the pandemic, the process has continued, said Liz Miller, a spokesperson for the CBRA off-leash dog public consultation committee.

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

“We’re continuing on with gathering information,” she said, adding that it’s a “present issue” and that the committee needs to address it.

The most recent consideration to review Saanich’s off-leash dog bylaws came after Coun. Karen Harper crafted a report highlighting concerns about the effects of loose canines on wildlife and beach-goers. When the topic came to council in late February, the meeting was dominated by extensive public input – residents arguing both for and against reviewing the bylaw. After hearing from the community, council postponed the vote so the CBRA could conduct public consultation.

Miller and her committee are taking a “broad approach” to the study by collecting observational data, letters and suggestions from Saanich residents, assessing environmental reports and researching the history of the issue.

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

“It’s been a very long task but the beach is an anchor in our community,” she explained. “It’s important that we hear everybody.”

Originally, council’s vote was moved to mid-July but, due to COVID-19, Miller expects that the timeline will shift. However, she noted that both the committee and the CBRA are still meeting safely and working to complete the community consultation process in a timely manner.

So far, the committee has received a large amount of feedback from all perspectives and while it’s been a lot of work to go through it all, Miller is happy to see that residents care and are having their say.

Most input has come from Cadboro Bay residents but folks from other Saanich neighbourhoods have been weighing in, she said.

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

Once the committee completes the consultation process, a report with options for moving forward will be brought to the CBRA executive, Miller explained. Then, the community will be invited to review the data and submit suggestions before the report is sent on to Saanich council.

The goal is to provide council with the “fullest picture” of the issue, Miller said.

Anyone interested in contributing to the study can send feedback to beach@cadborobay.net or call Miller at 250-888-4797.All comments will be included in the report, she said, adding that residents can indicate if they wish to be anonymous as the committee understands “it’s an emotional issue.”


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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