Katie runs for a stick at Willows Beach with ‘auntie’ Leigh Stempski in the final days dogs were allowed at Willows for the season.                                 Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News

Katie runs for a stick at Willows Beach with ‘auntie’ Leigh Stempski in the final days dogs were allowed at Willows for the season. Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News

Dogs banned from Willows May 1

Willows Beach closes to four-legged visitors May 1 to Sept. 30 each year

The annual ban on dogs begins Monday, May 1 at Willows Beach.

Eight-year-old Katie gets in about eight walks a day with her owner, but anticipates visits with “auntie” Leigh Stempski.

“She whines all the way from Fernwood to Oak Bay because she knows we’re going to the beach,” Stempski said with a laugh.

The pair took a final walk Sunday afternoon as Willows Beach closes to four-legged visitors May 1 to Sept. 30 each year.

“I use the beach too for sunbathing or colouring or just relaxing. I can understand that (ban),” said Stempski. “We’ll just go to other places.”

Willows Beach Park is abuzz for the next month with school groups coming from across the region for year-end picnics, says Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of parks for Oak Bay. Just one reason Sunday is the last day of the dog there.

“I know that disappoints a lot of people, but after much deliberation the municipality feels it is the best compromise for all beach users,” Hyde-Lay said.

“All of the areas that are accessible for dogs are on the website under Parks, Recreation and Culture.”

Locally, some shift to McNeill Bay, where dogs can remain off leash.

Katie and her human companion head to parks at Elk and Beaver lakes or other smaller off-leash areas closer to home, or outer reaches of Greater Victoria.

“It’s a different setting and gives you an opportunity to see other parks of Victoria,” Stempski said.

Dogs must be under control at all times and owners must pick up dog droppings in all parks, local and regional.

Throughout the Capital Regional District, from June 1 to Sept. 15, dogs must be on a leash when passing through designated beach and picnic areas and are not allowed to stay. On the Galloping Goose, Lochside and E&N Rail Trail-Humpback Connector regional trails, dogs must be leashed. Dogs must be on leash on the Elsie King Trail at Francis/King Regional Park.

Dogs must be leashed April through June at Uplands Park in Oak Bay as well.

“That is for the birds,” said Hyde-Lay. “As we begin to do more of our restoration work more and more birds are coming back.”

Adopt these simple habits when visiting regional parks with pets

• Stay on designated trails.

• Do not remove or disturb animals or plants, such as wildflowers.

• Leave no trace and carry out litter.

• Keep right except to pass.

• Alert others when passing and control your speed.

• Cyclists yield to all other trail users. Hikers yield to equestrians.

• Be Alert and Visible – wear reflective gear and use caution at road crossings

– crd.bc.ca

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com