Dog dilemma decision done

Oak Bay council decided to leave the park alone at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday evening which drew an overflow crowd.

Oakdowne Park will be left as it is: unfenced, not designated an off-leash dog park.

Oak Bay council decided to leave the park alone at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday evening which drew an overflow crowd.

More than 70 letters were received by council, most in opposition. A petition signed by 40 people, also in opposition to any changes to the park, was also received.

“Parks and rec is looking at putting a playground in that space,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch. “There is no consideration in turning that into a dog park.”

Numerous residents had addressed council before Murdoch’s announcement, voicing opposition to fencing the park for dogs. Many cited how small the park is and the growing number of young families moving into the area along with the lack of a playground. The park currently has no dog restrictions.

However, resident Walter Thompson wanted extra assurance and asked council for a commitment in leaving the park alone.

“It is very clear from what we’ve heard from parks and rec and around the table, no changes would be made,” Mayor Nils Jensen reassured him.

After Oakdowne Park concerns were addressed, council moved onto discussing a follow-up to the Dog Management Report. The original report, authored by Gloria Back and Chris Ash of the Windsor Dog Park group, gave opinions on how to make Oak Bay more dog friendly. That 61-page report was presented to council in May 2012 and included 21 recommendations to accomplish that goal. Council decided to look into three of the suggestions.

It will first look into allowing dogs at Kitty Islet from Oct. 1 to April 30, prohibited from May 1 to Sept. 30. This is in response to how McNeill Bay Beach is “virtually nonexistent due to storms and high tides” in the winter months, according to the report.

The second recommendation will see the redesign of Carnarvon Park after public consultation including a “dog friendly” representative.

Finally, staff will look into having a place to temporarily tie dogs while owners visit shops and restaurants in the village. One possibility is to have a dog tie-up outside the municipal hall building. The location was suggested by a resident during the meeting.

Council also added it will ask staff for a report on allowing dogs and commercial dog walkers in sensitive areas such as Uplands Park, which is home to a number of at-risk and threatened plants.