People, Pets and Parks Strategy

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

Virtual Open House Information Panels

At the February 1 Open House, the below information panels were presented to participants. 

Open House Panels [PDF - 9 MB]

These panels will provide you with the information necessary to complete the survey.

Want to read about what we've learned about and heard so far? Please review our January 2023 Strategy Update Report [PDF - 1 MB].

Online Survey – Open until February 22/23

Our second online survey relating to the project can be accessed here.

If you need more information, please refer to the below Summary Report or contact parks@saanich.ca.

If you would like a paper copy of the survey, please contact parks@saanich.ca.

Public Engagement Round 2 

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 upcoming public open house. The three meetings were:

  • Dog Owner Interest and Advocacy Groups, Trainers, and Professional Dog Walkers (Saanich based): Thursday, November 24. 29 invitations were sent out and 11 people attended.
  • Intergovernmental Agencies: Tuesday, November 29. A total of 27 contacts from Saanich staff, First Nations, neighbouring municipalities, and other agencies including CRD Bylaw were invited and 10 people attended.
  • Environmental and Stewardship Groups: Thursday, December 1. ‘Friends of’ organizations and other stewardship groups were invited as well as all Lead Stewards for Saanich’s Pulling Together Groups.  80 invitations were sent out for that workshop and 16 individuals attended.

The PowerPoint presented at those meetings can be viewed here.

Representatives from these lists were sent an invitation to the Virtual Stakeholder Workshops. If you know a group who is interested in the project, please have them email Parks@Saanich.ca and we will add them to our list to be notified about upcoming engagement activities. [Invite List]

Public Engagement Round #1 – Spring/Summer 2022 

Thank you to everyone who participated in this first round of engagement, which is now complete. 

Online survey

An online survey was open from May 20 to June 19, 2022 and was competed by more than1,800 individuals.

Virtual community conversations

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

Kitchen table conversations

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

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.

The public engagement plan

The project team has planned three separate rounds of public engagement which is illustrated in this diagram.

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 polices 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.