People, Pets and Parks Strategy FAQs
- Why does Saanich need a People, Pets, & Parks Strategy?
- Who is conducting the public engagement and developing the Strategy?
- What is the process of engagement going to be?
- What are the principles of engagement being implemented in this process?
- What will the strategy mean for me and my pet(s)?
- What are Indigenous cultural and archaeological sites?
- What are park natural areas?
- What is the pilot program for off leash dog areas?
- What is the timeline for the Strategy?
- How will my privacy be respected?
Why does Saanich need a People, Pets, & Parks Strategy?
Saanich is unique in that - with a few notable exceptions – most Saanich parks allow dogs off leash as long as they are kept under the effective control of their owners. The Animals Bylaw [PDF - 6 MB] is the main tool to enforce this requirement along with public education. However, given the large size of the municipality, the high number of parks and relatively low enforcement resources, consistent pro-active enforcement throughout the municipality has been limited. The strategy will outline recommendations for a District-wide framework that considers all users and the complex factors of the parks system, protects the environment, and meets the needs of the entire community.
Who is conducting the public engagement and developing the Strategy?
Saanich hired Lees+Associates to develop the People, Pets and Parks Strategy. Sub-consultants for the project include:
- Modus Planning, Design and Engagement (public engagement)
- LADR Landscape Architects (precedent research)
- Mustel Group (market research)
What is the process of engagement going to be?
This process will seek to involve a broad range of community members and stakeholders to ensure the diverse interests and needs of the community are represented.
Through public surveys, park pop-ups, and community dialogue sessions in Phase 1, we will gather initial input from the public and stakeholders about what is going well in Parks, what challenges are currently being experienced and what opportunities there are for improved management of people, pets, and the environment in Saanich.
In Phase 2, we will present preliminary stakeholders through another online survey, a public open house and stakeholder workshops.
In the last phase we will host a virtual public open house to share the Final Strategy with the public. This phase will culminate in the presentation of the Final Strategy to the Parks, Trails and Recreation Committee and the Saanich Council for approval.
What are the principles of engagement being implemented in this process?
We want to create an environment where all feel safe and welcome to share their perspectives and opinions. The guidelines for participation will be discussed at the beginning of our public events to ensure these virtual and in-person spaces are inclusive and comfortable for all participants.
- We are here to listen and learn - In our workshops we want to make sure everyone is given the chance to speak, be heard, and be involved in the process. Our public events will be facilitated to encourage dialogue, not debate.
- We all have good intentions – We know that everyone who participates in this engagement process cares about the parks and different users within Saanich. Recognizing that these differences are largely rooted in the many different ways that people engage and use the 170 parks, trails, beaches and open spaces within Saanich, this process must permit and facilitate understanding of the range of experiences/perspective of the community.
- Make space, take space –We want to ensure that the perspectives of all participants are respected and that anyone who wishes to share their views, are afforded the opportunity. It is important that as participants, we contribute to the conversation while also leaving space for others to speak.
- Be present – We want to hear from you! We want to respect everyone’s time and make sure by showing up to these events, we are contributing to a well-rounded conversation.
What will the strategy mean for me and my pet(s)?
Through the planned public engagement process, you will have several opportunities to voice your opinions, needs, concerns and ideas. The strategy will see more comprehensive planning and management of Saanich parks. The strategy will ensure parks continue to meet the needs of residents while protecting ecosystems that exist on the land.
What are Indigenous cultural and archaeological sites?
The District of Saanich lies within the territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples represented by the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations and the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples represented by the Tsartlip, Pauquachin, Tsawout, Tseycum and Malahat Nations. The First Peoples have been here since time immemorial and their history in this area is long and rich. First Nations across Canada help to protect cultural and archaeological sites by contributing traditional knowledge, values, and participating in the consultative process. It is important to be aware of these sites and consider them in land and development planning.
What are park natural areas?
Natural areas are an important part of the overall Saanich Parks system providing residents with access to nature and associated recreational opportunities. Natural areas are a unique subset of parkland—different from groomed parks in that they present unique and different opportunities and management challenges. Compared to open spaces, natural areas require different management programs. The park’s open spaces have been adapted for play and heavy traffic and are groomed so they have an orderly appearance and are maintained by Saanich staff. Natural areas are maintained to preserve habitat and ecosystem functioning while accommodating low intensity activities. This work is coordinated by Saanich staff with the assistance of volunteers and community groups who focus on controlling or eradicating invasive plants and noxious weeds as well as the restoration of natural areas where appropriate.
What is the pilot program for off leash dog areas?
On May 17, 2021 Council approved the implementation of five temporary enclosed dog parks rotating through five different Saanich parks. The Pop-Up Dog Park Pilot project began on June 29, 2021 and ran until September 7, 2021. This pilot program was an important step to gather input for the Strategy. The 585 responses to the pilot program survey will help inform the proposed framework. the program will continue in several parks for Summer 2022. Visit the Pop-up Dog Parks webpage for more information on the pilot.
What is the timeline for the Strategy?
It is anticipated that a final draft of the strategy will be presented to council in the Spring of 2023 which will be after three rounds of public engagement starting in the late spring of 2022.
How will my privacy be respected?
The District protects the personal information it collects, accesses, uses, and stores from individuals including employees, citizens, service providers, and others, in accordance with FIPPA. For more information visit the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy webpage.