Schools, dogs don’t mix

Steps taken to strengthen on-leash rule

Dogs running free in schoolyards in Oak Bay will soon be a thing of the past.

Following a request by the Greater Victoria School District, municipal staff are drafting a bylaw amendment that will require dog owners to keep their canines on leash on school properties. Oak Bay is the only municipality in the school district without such a rule.

The discrepancy was brought to light during spring break, when a resident walking with his child across the Willows elementary schoolyard complained about a woman walking her unleashed dog there.

Oak Bay’s contracted animal control officer, Ian Fraser, notified the school district, which sent secretary-treasurer George Ambeault to explain the situation to council Monday and officially make the request for the change.

“There were things that were different in Oak Bay and it caused them problems,” Ambeault said.

Council agreed with the solution and asked staff to draft the amendment, which would not likely take effect until summer.

Willows school posted signs last December asking visitors with dogs waiting for students to do so at a designated spot on the southeast corner of the grounds. The signage asks that dogs be leashed, but technically that isn’t enforceable under the current bylaw.

Principal Wendy Holob said visitors have been abiding by the request during school hours.

“It’s one of those things that, in the long run, is a safer process to have the dogs on a leash when they’re on a playground.”