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LETTER: Parks strategy will help protect environmentally sensitive areas

We have been dog owners throughout the 35 years that we have lived in Saanich. We support the Saanich People, Pets, and Parks Strategy and believe that there are many others in the community who support such a direction and who are concerned for the safety of their children, their elders, and their dogs. We also believe there are many in the community who are concerned about dogs running freely in environmentally sensitive areas in our parks. These areas would benefit from no-dog zones, fencing and proper signage to educate the public.

Knockan Hill Park, which had a glorious Garry oak camas meadow just a few years ago, has become very degraded due, in part, to human and dog trampling and from dogs fetching thrown balls. We have seen dogs running freely in environmentally sensitive areas, including those with species atrRisk, and running off-trail in Mount Douglas Park (PKOLS) in areas where volunteers have worked for thousands of hours removing invasive species and restoring the native understory. Park users and volunteers regularly deal with dog feces and bags left behind.

We are aware that there are many responsible dog owners who control their off-leash dogs in parks and beaches by keeping them on the trails, removing dog feces, and preventing them from jumping up on people, chasing or harming other dogs and wildlife. However, there are enough dog owners who are not responsible, and hence the concern in the community and therefore the need to create a strategy that will better ensure safe park use for all, and that will improve the protection of our parks’ environmentally sensitive areas, species at risk, and wildlife.

Ted and Lora Lea

Saanich