The District of Saanich is postponing its decision to dramatically reduce the number of off-leash dog parks in the community after a heated council meeting Monday.
In June, Saanich council unanimously voted to implement its “People, Pets and Parks” strategy, which would see the number of off-leash dog parks drop down to 57, or approximately one third of the current number of off-leash dog parks in the municipality.
The new policy was intended to improve park use for people with and without dogs, and to protect the environment of some park grounds, like PKOLS, formerly known as Mt. Douglas.
The decision was met with swift backlash from many Saanich dog owners who claimed they’d now have to travel far distances to reach an off-leash dog park, and that it negatively impacted people with mobility issues.
The issue saw heated comments from the community again at council meeting Monday.
Dozens of people weighed in at the council chambers, saying that council was not listening to their concerns.
Saanich council had intended to give the “People, Pets and Parks” three readings on Monday night, but the decision has been postponed for two weeks.
The municipality is still taking written correspondence from the public on the topic, but verbal input at council meetings is now closed, according to the district.
The current strategy calls for the district to reduce the number of off-leash dog areas over the next five years, at a cost of $9 to $11 million.
The new policy would also reduce the off-leash dog space at PKOLS from 21 kilometres of trail to 1.5.