People, Pets and Parks Strategy

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

Cat on the should of a man walking outdoors with words People, Pets and ParksPublic Engagement Round #1

Thank you to everyone who participated in this first round of engagement, which is now complete. Information collected will help the consultant team design Round #2 where they will host conversations with key stakeholders and organize pop-up engagements in a handful of locations later this summer and in the early fall. The team will also run a second survey during this round.

Online survey

Survey was open from May 20 to June 19 and was competed by over 1,500 individuals.

Virtual community conversations

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

Kitchen table conversations

These kitchen table discussions were for those who were unable or uncomfortable to participate in a community conversation or who preferred to facilitate their own small group conversation. Participants received a workbook to fill in and return to the consultant.

For more information, please contact Tru at

Statistically valid telephone survey

The Mustel Group is completing a statistically valid telephone survey. Thank you to all who were selected for taking the time to participate.

The public enagement plan

Now that our consultant team has done some project scoping and background research, they are ready to start having conversations with residents and parks users. The 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.