Re: McNeill Bay going to the dogs (News, June 1). Expanded access to dogs in McNeill Bay will ensure more degradation of this precious, scenic and amazingly wild public beach and bay.
Dog use is not excessive at present but already brings some nuisance and pollution. Current regulations are routinely ignored and never enforced.
Human use is not heavy but most common in summer with walkers, kayakers, sun bathers, children at play, seaweed harvesting, sight seeing and wildlife viewing.
Wildlife use is most abundant in winter with several species on and next to the beach including harlequin duck, American wigeon, bufflehead, great blue heron, bald eagle, black oystercatcher, schools of pacific herring and pacific sandlance, American mink, river otter and harbour seal. Whimbrels, short-billed dowitchers and at least one wandering tattler were there as well during the recent spring migration. Resident Glaucous-winged Gulls, Northwestern Crows and Canada Geese are common and less of a concern.
Scenic McNeill Bay provides excellent and peaceful views of the very special Trial Islands, the Salish Sea and the Olympic Mountains. The south-facing bay is often filled with abundant sun. The low-lying winter sun reflected on the sea is particularly stimulating.
Our waterfront and our beaches are very precious and we should aim to use them thoughtfully and improve them, not to degrade and pollute them unnecessarily. They need our help, not our insults. Ideally and in all fairness to all and wildlife, they should be dog-free at least half of the time; yes, six months out of 12 each year.
Dog parks are much needed but should not be located in prime oceanfront sites and other precious, threatened or endangered natural ecosystems that we are lucky to have in our city and that other cities would die to have within their limits.
In light of the large and apparently ever-increasing number of pets in our community, this is an important topic. We now need a new mind set on these matters. It is a simple question of numbers.
I value our urban wildlife and as a former dog owner, I appreciate all points of view and want to be reasonable. I also know first hand what pet pollution and nuisance is all about.