Currently, dogs are permitted off-leash on Willows Beach through the winter but it closes to four-legged visitors from May 1 to Sept. 30 each year. The new proposal suggests a year-round ban on dogs in the south rocky portion from Bowker Avenue to Bowker Creek estuary. (Google maps)

Currently, dogs are permitted off-leash on Willows Beach through the winter but it closes to four-legged visitors from May 1 to Sept. 30 each year. The new proposal suggests a year-round ban on dogs in the south rocky portion from Bowker Avenue to Bowker Creek estuary. (Google maps)

Oak Bay considers dog ban on portion of Willows Beach

‘Recent conflicts and screaming matches’ between dog owners and birdwatchers prompts proposal

Oak Bay is examining options to restrict dogs on the south end of Willows Beach in order to protect the 153 species of birds sighted in the area – a number that makes it one of the best birding areas in Victoria.

The Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, spanning from the Gorge, through Victoria Harbour, and along the shoreline up to the Oak Bay region, was established in 1923 to actively protect species and ecosystems directly affected by human activity.

A stretch of coastline around the Bowker estuary in Oak Bay provides especially attractive habitat for birds, and bird advocates are calling for more protection in that area.

Citing “recent conflicts and screaming matches” between dog owners and birdwatchers at Bowker Reef, Jacques Sirois, chair of Friends of Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, is calling for a new bylaw banning dogs at the south end of Willows Beach, from Bowker Avenue to Bowker Creek estuary.

RELATED: Window to the Salish Sea in place at Cattle Point

Currently, dogs are permitted off-leash on Willows Beach through the winter but it closes to four-legged visitors from May 1 to Sept. 30 each year.

The new proposal suggests a year-round ban on dogs in the south rocky portion.

Sirois brought the suggestion forward to the Parks, Recreation & Culture Commission, who then presented the idea to the March 18 Committee of the Whole.

District staff were directed to examine options to restrict dogs from the south end of Willows Beach and bring a report forward to a future council meeting.

“It is not that we are banning dogs, they would still be welcome in the biggest portion of Willows from October to April,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. “It is just in this specific part of Willows that we are looking to balance what is good for the dogs and owners and what is good for the bird sanctuary and what we have there.”

District staff are already in the process of revising the Animal Control Bylaw and council said that options for restricting dogs in the suggested area can come forward together with the proposed bylaw revisions for council consideration.

It is expected staff will come back in a month or two with information, after which time public input will be sought, said Braithwaite.

RELATED: Birds Eye View: Travelling pop-up exhibit lands first in Oak Bay

In 2017, Nature Canada, the largest lobby group of naturalists in Canada, and the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia recognized Greater Victoria as a NatureHood site – an ideal place for urban Canadians to connect with nearby nature and urban wildlife.

A live bird list of species sighted in the Oak Bay area can be found at ebird.org/canada/hotspot/L1298602.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bystanders attend to a cyclist who is knocked to the pavement of Oak Bay Avenue. Witnesses say the cyclist was knocked off their bike in a dooring incident on Oak Bay Avenue at Fell Street at around 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 
(Daniel Opden Dries Photo)
UPDATED: VicPD tickets driver for ‘dooring’ cyclist on Oak Bay Avenue

Incident occurred at Oak Bay Avenue and Fell Street

West Shore RCMP pulled over a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 23 after noting that it didn’t appear safe for the road. (West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP pull over vehicle held together by tape and cargo strap

RCMP deemed the vehicle unsafe for the road and had it towed away

An Oak Bay municipal crew finishes off a job by laying hot asphalt in place on Dalhousie Street. The District of Oak Bay is in the process of completing a number of underground infrastructure projects, part of its long term asset renewal plan for the municipality. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Oak Bay’s Uplands sewer, storm line separation project awaits funding

Federal/provincial infrastructure grant announcement expected next spring

On Nov. 16, Saanich council received the 2020 Housing Needs Report which provides a summary of the district’s housing market and the anticipated future needs of the municipality. (District of Saanich)
New report highlights need for diverse, affordable housing in Saanich

Saanich Housing Needs Report shows current supply doesn’t meet community needs

The Sooke Food Bank told Sooke city council Monday that they’re projecting to spend $32,000 more compared to 2019 figures. President Kim Metzger said that they’re looking for a bigger space, as they’ve had logistic problems for food storage. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke Food Bank voices dire need for bigger space

‘We found that we’re not quite prepared,’ says president of volunteer group

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property south of Nanaimo

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14, say RCMP

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Most Read