City council’s decision on the foreshore trail has been met with sadness from SABNES and satisfaction from citizens in favour of dog walking there.
Although few people could be reached for comment before deadline, a sampling of reaction showed a mixture of disappointment and approval.
Ed Parent, who launched a petition in his Critter’s store gathering names of those in favour of leashed dogs on the trail, is pleased with council’s Dec. 14 decision.
“I think it’s great news for the community. There should be no reason why people can’t walk dogs down there on a leash and be responsible.”
Although the bylaw that was already in place allowed dogs on leash, the Salmon Arm Bay Nature Enhancement Society, which has been the guardian of the area for 25 years, had erected signs stating dogs were prohibited, fearing harm to birds and other wildlife inhabiting the refuge.
The new bylaw, which will be based on a one-year trial, adds stipulations to leashed dogs on the trail. They must be on leashes a maximum of two metres long and are not permitted on the trail from April 15 to June 15 when birds are nesting. Dogs are also not allowed on Christmas Island nor on the two boardwalks leading onto the nature reserve.
Current signage prohibiting dogs will be replaced with city signage at the entrances to and along the foreshore trail, indicating leashed dogs are permitted.
The motion also states that staff work with SABNES to design and install signage that prohibits dogs from the island and boardwalks.
Regarding the stipulations, Parent remarked: “I think it’s a little overkill but unfortunately with some people that don’t follow rules, I think the overkill has to be in place in order for people to abide by the rules.”
SABNES member Tom Brighouse said he doesn’t wish to speak for SABNES, but offered his own view. SABNES president Janet Aitken was not able to provide a comment on behalf of the society before deadline.
Brighouse said he sees the closure of the trail to dogs for two months as the best of a disappointing decision, although he suggested the closure should go a little further into the summer during nesting season. He did, however, offer an accolade.
“I commend council for having a jolly good debate.”
Brighouse also said he feels SABNES was ignored leading up to the decision.
“Whatever the outcome, the SABNES board has a right to feel that courtesies were not in keeping with their verbal appreciation for what SABNES has done for 25 years.”
Peter Robertson, the driving force behind the move to get dogs on the trail, is happy.
“I’m very pleased with the fact that the process gathered the input of numerous interest groups in the community and I’m very pleased with the amount of consideration, time and energy council gave coming to a decision,” he said.
“Obviously the decision was in line with what we were looking for, and the key part is, I hope it forms a foundation from which we can work with all the groups, including SABNES, to make the trail work for everybody.”
He added: “The other aspect to that – I think the decision gives us a good starting point to move constructively forward and I am confident now that all of the parties will work together.”
SABNES member Geoff Benson expressed his displeasure.
“We’re extremely disappointed and saddened by this. A lot of us have put in a lot of work to try to achieve a wildlife sanctuary. This is a very negative backward step.”
Council also passed another motion. It invites the Shuswap Trail Alliance, which has agreed, to facilitate a short- and longer-term consensus between stakeholders. It will report back to council with an appropriate data-monitoring plan for the trial, and then report the results as well as providing longer-term management proposals.