People, Pets and Parks Strategy

People, Pets, and Parks Strategy approved

Saanich Council unanimously approved the People, Pets, and Parks Strategy and its proposed five-year implementation plan during a Special Council meeting on June 28, 2023.

Implementation of the strategy will begin with an amendment to the Animal Bylaw, anticipated early fall. 

Click here to view the People, Pets and Parks Strategy [PDF - 4 MB] and Appendicies [PDF - 45 MB]

People, Pets and Parks: A District Wide Strategy for Sharing Saanich’s Parks

Public Engagement Round 3

Thank you for submitting feedback during the third round of public engagement for the People, Pets and Parks Strategy. The feedback form is now closed.

May 29 Information session

Thank you to almost 100 participants who attended our recent information session. If you missed the session, you can view a recording here or read questions and answers that were covered during the webinar here. [PDF - 228 KB]

Public Engagement Round 2 Summary - November 2022 to March 2023

View a summary of the second round of public engagement for the People, Pets and Parks Strategy:

Open House – February 2023

On February 1 close to 300 people attended an Open House where the project team was on hand to answer questions. The below information panels were presented to participants at that time plus were posted for those who were unable to attend the event.

Open House Panels [PDF - 9 MB]

Strategy Update Report – January 2023

An update of what was discovered in Round 1 was presented in our Strategy Update Report [PDF - 1 MB].

Stakeholder Workshops - Nov/Dec 2022 

Our second round of engagement began with a series of three stakeholder workshops which were small-scale ‘virtual’ conversations with invited representatives from various groups and organizations. Stakeholders were grouped separately to provide participants with an opportunity to help the team understand considerations pertaining to their specific interests and expertise before finalizing information for the February public open house. 

The PowerPoint presented at those meetings can be viewed here.

A list of invited representatives from these organizations and groups can be found here. [Workshops Invite List]

Public Engagement Round #1 – Spring/Summer 2022 

Online survey - May/June 2022

An online survey was completed by more than 1,800 individuals.

Virtual community conversations - June 2022

Over 50 people attended two virtual Community Conversations. Check out the presentation shared at those sessions [PDF - 4 MB].

Kitchen table conversations - June 2022

Kitchen Table Workbooks were provided to those who were unable or uncomfortable to participate in a community conversation or who preferred to facilitate their own small group conversation. 24 people participated in this option.

Statistically valid telephone survey - June 2022

The Mustel Group completed 300 random telephone interviews (landline and cell phones) to achieve a representative sampling of the Saanich population. Thank you to all who were selected for taking the time to participate.

Consultant team

Lees+Associates were hired 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)

Council endorsement

Young girl petting a dog wearing a collar and leashAt the Special Council Meeting on July 5, 2021, Saanich Council approved that a strategy titled People, Pets and Parks: A District Wide Strategy for Sharing Saanich’s Parks be developed. At that meeting staff were asked to prepare a Terms of Reference to be considered by Council. Those Terms of Reference, approved by council on August 4, 2021, outlines the selection of a qualified proponent to enter into a contract with the District of Saanich to develop the strategy.

Project Background

Recently there has been growing calls from residents for Saanich to review policies and/or regulations relating to pet management in parks. In Saanich, pet owners bring a variety of pets/animals with them when visiting parks such as horses, cats, birds, etc. but the vast majority of pets observed and reported incidents involve dogs. This is why existing rules and policies focus mainly on dogs in parks.

Many communities across the country have established designated off leash areas or “dog parks” as a way to manage conflicts between owners, their pets and other park users that would prefer a pet free experience. Currently Saanich is unique in that with a few notable exceptions, most of Saanich’s parks are considered “off leash” so long as the dogs are kept under the effective control of their owners. The Animal Bylaw has been the tool to enforce this requirement. However, given the large size of the municipality and relatively low enforcement resources there has been little consistent pro-active enforcement throughout the municipality. There are few policies or bylaws relating to other pets in parks currently at Saanich.

Council has decided that an overarching District Wide People, Pets and Parks Strategy that encompasses the entire municipality is the preferred approach to addressing the community’s calls. The scope of work for the project includes researching best practices, other successful municipal strategies, current park use and behaviour in Saanich, reviewing commercial pet related businesses (in parks), opportunities for bylaw amendments/enforcement, physical infrastructure requirements and public engagement.