Sooke council wants the Capital Regional District to reconsider a bylaw that forces owners to leash their dogs in some regional parks.
New bylaw amendments were initiated by the Capital Regional District last March which included 11 regional parks where dogs are required to be on-leash at all times – five of those parks are in Sooke.
The parks include: Ayum Creek Regional Park Reserve, Sea to Sea, Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park, the Sooke Potholes and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
On Monday, council backed a resolution from Coun. Kerrie Reay asking the CRD to permit dogs off-leash on the Galloping Goose Trail, and the trails and surrounding area along the Sooke River Potholes, between Kilometre 49 and the CRD Watershed, except between May and the end of September to corresponded with CRD Parks summertime parking regulations.
“I find it very hard to understand why the CRD took the initiative for 57 kilometres of the [Galloping Goose Trail]. I think it’s narrow in scope and nature,” said Reay.
“We need to learn to share space and find balance with the varying needs of all of our community members.”
The CRD staff is unlikely to back down from its decision.
CRD staff came to council July 9, and explained the process of their decision to have dogs on leashes, saying it stemmed from management plans completed over the years for specific areas.
The management plan for Sooke parks started in 2006, when CRD staff held a public consultation in Sooke about issues and interests in the park, as well as a proposal to have dogs on-leash. They held more surveys and public consultations over the years in 2009, 2010, and 2016, proposing the same thing, and said most of the feedback they received favoured dogs to be on-leash.
“Dog management was not a big issue during the planning stages, but most of the comments we got back favoured having dogs on leashes in the parks to protect wildlife and the environment,” said Mike MacIntyre, acting senior manager of CRD Regional Parks.
Reay pointed out the most recent public consultation for dogs specific to the Sooke Potholes and Kapoor Regional Park was undertaken in Sooke in 2006 and 2009.
“Our community has changed dramatically since then,” she said.