People, Pets and Parks Strategy: clarifying misinformation
June 15, 2023
Saanich has seen a significant increase in visitors—both human and canine—to our 172 parks over several years. This is great news! However, we need to balance the needs of all park users, mitigate any potential negative situations involving dogs and continue to respect the environment. A balanced approach ensures everyone enjoys their experience.
In 2021, Council gave direction to explore options to address the challenges that have been raised by the community regarding experiences with pets in our parks. These challenges include increased demand and use of parks, changing community expectations, varying needs of park users, improving safety, waste management, protection of natural areas and habitat, improved communication, and education related to dog behaviour.
Through 16 months of research and public engagement, we’ve shared our draft strategy and received some great feedback, but we’re also aware that some misinformation has been circulating in the community.
Myth #1: Dogs won’t be welcome in Saanich parks.
Clarification: Dogs will continue to be welcome in Saanich parks, but the draft strategy states that dogs will need to be on a leash in some areas.
Myth #2: There won’t be any spaces for my dog to run free.
Clarification: 57 of Saanich’s parks will offer dedicated off-leash areas.
Myth #3: Saanich’s recommendations are too restrictive.
Clarification: The recommendations are quite generous compared to other communities.
Myth #4: Saanich is only listening to one side, the loudest majority.
Clarification: The consultants are collecting and reviewing the feedback we have received from all interested parties.
Myth #5: Most park users agree that having all parks designated as off-leash is beneficial.
Clarification: Feedback shows that most park users agree that having some off-leash areas is beneficial.
Saanich is extremely grateful for the feedback we have received from the community on this important initiative. Our goal is that all users will feel welcome and safe in our beautiful parks for years to come.