WATCH: The District of Sooke is asking the CRD to give them a bit of leeway in certain areas of the Galloping Goose Trail when it comes to the on-leash by law. It came into effect in March and residents are divided on whether its a change they want to see stay. Luisa Alvarez reports.
It’s been taking some getting used to but in March the Capital Regional District (CRD) made it mandatory to have dogs on a leash for the entire Galloping Goose Trail. In Sooke, though, they are hoping to get some flexibility.
“I think it’s easy to put a policy in place but Sooke, we are an urban community with rural roots so that transition we are just looking for an opportunity to balance the use,” said Sooke Coun. Kevin Pearson.
In other parks in Sooke, a bylaw allows dogs to be off leash but only if the owner is in control.
“Under control to me means effective control so if you call your dog it comes back. If there are other dogs around it does not interact in a negative way and if there are other users of the trail that your dog can be controlled and not become a hazard,” said Pearson.
Sooke council is asking the CRD to allow certain low-traffic sections of the trail by the Sooke Potholes to be off leash at least during the off-season.
“The further north and further west you go the less busy it becomes and I think that the areas that are around the potholes are even less travelled at certain times of the year,” said Pearson.
Many are in favour of the request like Sooke resident Rochelle Pattenadeu.
“I would love to have some off-leash options in the Sooke area this trail is nice and flat and wide its open there is lots of room for people to move over if there are bikers coming, of course, I get my dogs off the trail,” said Pattenadeu.
But others think the on-leash bylaw is a necessary one.
“A lot of those dogs that are off leash, if they are out of control, it’s not very much fun for other people that are on those trails,” said dog walker Lisa Yakimovich.
And Metchosin Mayor John Ranns warns there are always unintended consequences when you try to be the exception to the rule.
“When we allowed beach fires, we ended up being the only ones that did and pretty soon everyone from the whole area came and it just became too much and we had to shut it down,” said Ranns.
CRD parks committee chair David Screetch says the broader issue of dogs in CRD parks is being examined by staff and in that report, they will also look into exemptions, but it’s not something that will be resolved overnight.
“Spring early summer of next year they will bring back a report that we will be able to go and talk to the public and get some feedback and then make some final decisions,” said Screech.
Sooke is the only municipality asking for an exemption.