A nearly-completed split rail fence along the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail has created more divide than intended among the public, sparking a protest scheduled for this Sunday.
“I mean, that’s ridiculous. I mean, let’s live here. This is a park for fun, for people to have fun and the council, I hope they’re all voted out on the 15th,” said dog owner Louise Coutu.
Back in February, the City of Victoria began exploring options to fix issues between dogs and pedestrians who use the trail. Council said that they received multiple complaints of dogs spilling over from the grassy area to the paved pedestrian walkway.
The city approved a $100,000 allocation to create a split fence between Cook Street and Clover Point, estimated to be more than one kilometre long.
The grassy area will remain as an off-leash area, while the paved walkway is designed for pedestrians and dogs that are on a leash. The trail closest to the waterfront remains an area where dogs are not permitted.
“I’ve been walking along the park for five years, I’ve seen one accident. But you get a couple of people that call in all the time, every day that dogs are running in,” said Coutu.
Coutu tells CHEK News that a protest is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. along the trail in response to the new fencing and she hopes that it’ll inspire the next council to remove the split fence.
Still, one dog owner says he understands the need for the fence.
“I don’t mind it too much if it helps some people avoid having dogs jump up on their face,” said Italo Borrelli, dog owner. “That’s not really for everybody when they’re out for a walk.”
Another dog owner tells CHEK News that she believes it’ll ruin the aesthetic of the park.
“I think it’s a very natural area. I think it should stay the way it is, it’s very nice,” said Zoe Pritcard.
The fence is lower than the already-established fence lines on the trail, and the pilot project is also bringing a new woodchip path inside the off-leash area.
Coutu tells CHEK News she’s also worried about what will happen when winter arrives.
“When this is all muck, I don’t care what cedar chips they’re putting in. My dog is going to be full of mud,” said Coutu.
The City of Victoria says it’s going to listen to concerns throughout the next year.
“Staff will monitor the pilot and experience from it will help inform the creation of a Dogs in Parks Strategy, scheduled to begin 2023,” said the city in an emailed statement to CHEK News.
The fence is expected to be completed before the Labour Day long weekend, and garbage bins and the woodchip path are estimated to be placed along the trail in September.