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Saanich Reevaluates Leash Rules for Dogs in Public Parks Following Public Outcry

by Lisa

After a sustained period of public dissent, the District of Saanich is now reevaluating its stance on leash regulations for dogs in local parks and on beaches.

During a council meeting held on Monday night, it was decided that the previously approved parks and pets strategy, passed in June, needed revision. The move comes in response to the concerns raised by pet owners, who argued that mandating leash usage in 84 percent of the district’s parks was overly restrictive.

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Mayor Dean Murdock, addressing the issue on CBC’s On The Island, acknowledged the significant public pressure. He stated, “It was not something that they were comfortable with. It was going to take a lot away from them, and they pushed council pretty hard.”

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The mayor revealed that he had received an overwhelming number of messages expressing discontent since the strategy’s approval in the spring. Consequently, the council felt it necessary to reevaluate the contentious plan and find a middle ground that aligns with the desires of pet owners, public safety concerns, and environmental considerations.

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The initial strategy, scheduled to be implemented over a five-year period beginning in the fall, would have reduced the number of parks in the district where dogs could roam off-leash from 172 to 57. Furthermore, it designated only one beach, Cordova Bay, as a year-round, leash-optional location, while limiting off-leash access at PKOLS (Mount Douglas Park) to a 1.5-kilometer trail loop, in contrast to the previous allowance of dogs off-leash across most of the park’s 21-kilometer trail system.

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The backlash from dog owners sparked protests and a campaign urging the council to reconsider its decision. Mayor Murdock summarized the primary concern raised by residents, stating, “The primary complaint that we heard was that you’re taking away my ability to hike with my dog off-leash.”

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