Threats, harassment and people ‘barking mad’ in Cadboro Bay dog debate

WatchThe fur is flying over the Cadboro Bay dog debate and some residents say they're been harassed and threatened. Tess van Straaten reports.

The fur is flying over the Cadboro Bay dog debate and some people are barking mad.

“To send the report for further action would just be an expensive wild goose chase,” says area resident Jerry Donaldson.

Donaldson’s been coming to Cadboro Bay Beach for 30 years.

A retired lawyer, Donaldson’s now a dog walker and brings pups down daily.

“You see the same people every day,” says Donaldson. “We talk about dogs and the dogs know each other.

Read More: Saanich councillor wants staff to review dogs on beaches

But a Saanich council motion to look at dog access at the popular beach is unleashing a storm of controversy.

“I would ask council to let sleeping dogs lie,” one resident told council.

So many residents spoke at Monday night’s council meeting, debate on councillor Karen Harper’s motion had to be deferred until next week.

“Not surprised in the sense I’d been warned this is a very emotional issue but surprised in that the ask, in my view, is so minor,” Harper says. “It’s a request for a report.”

Dog owners are now facing off against people worried about safety, as well as wildlife in this migratory bird sanctuary.

“I have witnessed countless instances of wildlife harassment by dogs,” Cadboro Bay resident Ramona Johnston told council.

Johnston says she’s also faced harassment and abuse from dog owners.

“Asking them to not allow their dogs to chase wildlife in a protected sanctuary have been met with profanity, threats, and vindictive behaviour including throwing dog feces at me, on my property, and leaving it in my mailbox,” Johnston says, adding that she had to call Saanich Police on Tuesday after a woman came up to her house and allegedly told her she better lock her doors.

During the busy summer season from May to the end of August, dogs are only allowed on a small section of the beach from the sewage outfall to the far end of the beach.

The rest of the beach, including the main beach all the way to the Oak Bay end, is off-limits to dogs after 9 a.m.

Donaldson and many others think it should stay that way.

“I don’t think there should be any change to the dog rules,” he says. “They were achieved in 1997 after a lot of public consultation and compromise.”

But Harper’s hopeful they’ll be able to find a new compromise — whether it’s leashing dogs in summer or possibly restricting summer access.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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