Impact on dog owners - Discussion draft
This is a discussion draft to establish a policy on dogs at Island View Beach
Dog owners are the most active and consistent users of the park as it is one of the few large public where there is space for the dogs to run. The Friends of island View Beach support the right of dog owners and their dogs to have the same rights of access as anyone else. Incidents of dog nuisance are rare. The most common complaint, which is justified, is the dog poop not collected by some inconsiderate owners.
A public meeting was held on March 16, 2011. A lot of comments relating to dogs were made at that meeting. Click here to see those comments - go to page 25
One of the big issues with the 2013 interim plan put forward by the CRD was that it was not complete - it was missing a plan for the dog owners, for the camp ground, and for a proposed sand dune restoration. Despite these missing elements the CRD staff wished to cancel the existing park by law which contains regulations for dog owners and replace it with a draft interim plan that did not deal with dogs. Staff said they would deal with dogs at a later date, so the dog owners would have lost the protection given in the existing park bylaw. The CRD later had to withdraw this 2013 draft because it contained so many misrepresentations about the environment and other matters See here
That draft however, shows how the CRD staff intended to restrict access to dogs in the name of environment conservation, and that appears to be the continuing theme moving into a new plan in 2015.
The great unknown was the intended restriction on access to the park in the 2013 draft plan
In addition to unknown regulations pertaining directly to dogs, the other great uncertainty that dog walkers faced along with all other park users, was what access they would have to the park under the 2013draft interim plan.
The draft plan proposed to drastically reduce the area classed as recreation.
The plan on the right is from the existing park bylaw. The brown shaded area is what is now classed as Recreation that the 2013 draft plan proposed to reclass as Environmental Protection.
The 2013 draft plan proposed that only 8% of the park will be Recreation.
In addition to the reduction of the Recreation area, the draft plan spoke of closing some trails but did not give specifics.
All users then, faced reduced access to the park under the 2013 proposed plan, but the signals were that for dogs the restrictions would be greater.
The plan on the left is from the current 1989 park bylaw.
Currently dogs may go anywhere in the park - off leash anywhere in the shaded area, and on leash in the unshaded area.
The 2013 draft plan did not disclose if dogs will have the same freedom, but every sign suggests it intended there would restrictions on where dogs can go and when.
The hints about restrictions on access for dogs:
The 2013 draft interim plan for the park identified dogs as a nuisance:
p.31 “ Inappropriately managed dogs can result in environmental disturbance, negative impacts to migrating shorebirds, habitat/species decline, and disturbance to other park visitors.
There is strong public support for the development of a dog management strategy that reinforces the need for responsible dog ownership and enhanced park stewardship." [Note: :Enhanced park stewardship can safely be interpreted as meaning restricting where dogs can go.]
Page 52 of the 2013 draft interim plan gave a clue of what CRD staff intended for dog owners: a clamp down on where and how dogs can go, in the name of environmental protection:
2. Dog Management
• Develop dog management policies in collaboration with dog owners and other park visitors and interest groups. The dog management policies will address responsible dog behavior with respect to the effects of dogs on other park visitors, wildlife, ecosystems, and, particularly on shorebirds, waterfowl, and ground‐nesting birds.
• Strengthen dog management regulations and enforcement to protect native ecosystems and species from trampling, harassment, and fouling.
• Require park use permits for professional dog walkers
With the extraneous wording removed, this reduces to:
2. Dog Management
The dog management policies will address ... the effects of dogs on other park visitors, wildlife, ecosystems, and, particularly on shorebirds, waterfowl, and ground‐nesting birds.
... dog management regulations ... to protect native ecosystems and
species from trampling, harassment, and fouling.
Missing from this was the big question - what wildlife?, what ecosystems?, what species?, where? and when? None of this was been documented, yet the CRD staff intended to curtail the rights of the dog owners in the name of these unknowns. These should be addressed, openly and without exaggeration, before the dog regulations are changed.
The Friends of Island View Beach Park take this position regarding dogs
- Dogs (and their owners) have a right, along with anyone else, to be at the beach and in the park
- Just as with any person or animal, the behaviour of dogs and their owners must be considerate of the park environment and other visitors, human or otherwise.
- The most frequent complaint about dogs is excrement, and a strict poop and scoop rule is needed.
- The first step in drafting a new park plan must be to build a true inventory of the natural features and resources in the park, and to engage the public in this, with explanations of where special features or species are, and why they are special and require protection. Only when this is done can an informed decision be made to create a balance between environmental protection and the right of the public to use the park.