File photo                                Steven St. Denis his daughter Kiara and dog Destiny enjoy an early morning bike ride on the foreshore trail on Sunday, Oct. 2. Leashed dogs will continue to be permitted on the trail with restrictions during bird nesting periods.

File photo Steven St. Denis his daughter Kiara and dog Destiny enjoy an early morning bike ride on the foreshore trail on Sunday, Oct. 2. Leashed dogs will continue to be permitted on the trail with restrictions during bird nesting periods.

Can dogs and birds mix? Monitoring of foreshore trail continues

City council agrees to help fund a summer student to keep track of impacts of dogs on trail.

City council is willing to chip in $3,450 for monitoring of the impact of dogs on the foreshore trail, on the heels of a year-long project there.

In December 2015, following a heated public debate, council decided to allow dogs on leash on the trail, with provisions, which included having no dogs during the critical nesting period between April 15 and June 15.

As well, council decided to establish a working group of stakeholders led by the Shuswap Trail Alliance who would develop a one-year monitoring plan for the trail.

Last month, a comprehensive report prepared by Phil McIntyre-Paul and Jeremy Ayotte on domestic dog management on the trail was presented to council.

Council was pleased to see that the number of incidents where dogs were off leash or on leashes too long, in restricted areas, harassing wildlife, or on the trail during the nesting period, were fewer after council’s decision to allow dogs than before.

A budget recommendation going forward included: a summer student survey report – $2,250; administering the monitoring program – $1,200; additional educational signs – $1,000, a State of the Bay Symposium – $5,000 as well as in-kind contributions for reconvening the working group, as needed, and maintaining the spring closure banners.

Council considered the budget at its Feb. 14 meeting, deciding to fund part of the proposed items.

Coun. Alan Harrison suggested that staff find $3,450 in the budget to fund the first two requests: a summer student survey report and administration of the monitoring program.

“I think the work done in the first year has been very valuable work. The community has bought in, all walkers of that trail…,” he said. “I think it’s more than a one-year project. The survey piece and monitoring I think are the things we need.”

Carl Bannister, the city’s chief administrative officer, told council that its council initiatives fund currently has about $14,000 in it.

Harrison didn’t support putting in the educational signs, saying he fears there will be too many.

“I think the signs down there are excellent. I think they really do the job.”

Coun. Kevin Flynn pointed out that sometimes it’s possible to get matching funds for a summer student.

While council liked the idea of a State of the Bay symposium, they weren’t prepared to fund it.

Coun. Tim Lavery said if council is not going to be the lead agency on a symposium, he would support a partnership, should council be asked.