The City of Victoria has begun to look at options in an effort to minimize the number of issues arising between pedestrians and off-leash dogs in the area of Dallas Road.
According to City Council, multiple complaints have been received through e-mail about incidents between pedestrians and off-leash dogs along the pathway near the waterfront.
There is a grassy area between the pathway and Dallas Road where dogs are currently allowed off-leash but pedestrians who are using the pathways say that the people’s pets spill over beyond the grassy area.
With the ongoing complaints in recent months, staff are suggesting that bylaws are updated to adjust the areas that allow dogs to be off-leash.
Staff put forward a motion to Council on Thursday, asking that the City allocate $100,000 from the Building and Infrastructure Reserve toward a pilot project in order to reduce conflict and ensure safety, accessibility and enjoyability on the southern boundary of the off-leash area in the Dallas Road Waterfront Park between Cook Street and Clover Point. The motion recommended additional benches, sections of split-rail fencing, signage and other interventions as part of the upgrades.
Councillor Ben Isitt says the motion is intended to allow City staff the financial authorization to explore options and pursue something more than what is currently there.
There is currently not enough infrastructure, in Isitt’s mind, to delineate the boundary of the off-leash area.
Isitt adds that complaints have come from seniors, people with disabilities and others members of the public that they don’t feel safe. On the flip side, he says councillors have heard from other people who appreciate the open concept of the area.
“This proposes a pilot project that would balance those considerations and aim at a compromise that doesn’t go to one extreme or the other,” Isitt outlined, pointing out that a solution wouldn’t be status quo but wouldn’t take away from the open concept with a continuous section of fencing and changing the aesthetic of the area.
Isitt said an example of the pilot project could be partial sections of fencing set up for a one-month period as experimentation of what change could look like.
Coun. Geoff Young raised the point that part of the reason for so many complaints is that he believes many people are unaware of the current rules and off-leash boundaries. He believes many dog owners believe that they can walk with their pets off-leash on the path at this time.
Young added that increased signage and bylaw enforcement in the area might be the only solution neeed.
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe also offered other possible creative solutions such as utilizing logs and rocks to mark boundaries, with fencing being a last-case solution.
On Thursday, February 3, Victoria City Council ultimately unanimously approved the allocation of funds for the pilot project to explore various options of improving the safety, accessibility and enjoyability of the area.