Residents will get a chance to weigh in on dogs and the Foreshore Trail in the near future.
SABNES, or the Nature Bay Society, came to the city’s planning meeting Monday to request that the city change the bylaw governing the Foreshore/Raven Trail from allowing dogs on a leash in the custody of owners, to prohibiting dogs altogether.
President Janet Aitken said she knows the city values the trail and it’s a big draw for tourism. She said SABNES has put up signs prohibiting dogs, but “technically we’re not one of those parks where no dogs are permitted.”
Tom Brighouse noted that SABNES members have spent more than 25 years courteously discouraging people from bringing dogs to the wildlife sanctuary, and the area has been widely publicized as a mecca for naturalists.
He gave a number of examples where dogs have threatened or would threaten wildlife, such as the many species of birds including short-eared owls and three types of grebe that nest on the ground within a few feet of the trail.
Peter Robertson, a resident who lives near the trail, said what’s being asked is contrary to the wider interests of the public, and everyone should have free access to the trail. He said he supports SABNES and suggests the group could build a fence along the trail to be more effective.
He said SABNES has been misleading the public with its signs, and “I’ve seen large burly men confront my wife on the trail” regarding her dog.
Coun. Ken Jamieson said he appreciates both sides of the issue, and doesn’t want to see the good name or volunteer work of SABNES in any way tarnished.
“They do terrific work and have done so for three decades.”
Coun. Alan Harrison said council needs to come up with a process and can’t ignore the issue. He suggested gathering public input at an upcoming meeting and leaving the signs where they are for now.
Council agreed to discuss a date for the meeting and then let the public know once it’s decided.