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The Issues:   West Vancouver

Are you one of the many people who would like to see more responsible dog ownership in West Vancouver?

The District of West Vancouver has reviewed their animal control bylaws and regulations regarding parks and produced a Council Report (PDF version here) making several recommendations. This report was reviewed by council at their May 5, 2008 meeting.

Before any extensive changes are put into effect, it would be beneficial for the district to first know whether the current state of dogs in the community is acceptable to the majority of dog owners and non dog owners using statistically valid measurement. However, no survey of citizens has been completed, as was done in Vancouver in 2003 by Synovate.

Changes to park usage should not be taken lightly as they affect us all, and should be supported by the majority of the community.


What the District Needs To Do

To ensure our parks can be enjoyed safely and in harmony by all citizens, iCare recommends the following actions on the part of the district of West Vancouver. (You may also want to read our Powerpoint presentation to council on May 5, 2008.)

1. Get licensing up to 90%.

Invite Bill Bruce, the Director of Bylaw and Animal Services in Calgary to West Vancouver to discuss Calgary's model and impressive achievement of 90% licensing rates. Calgary is the gold standard in North America for responsible dog ownership.

2. Year-round dedicated bylaw officer for ticketing

This officer would be paid for through licensing. Another alternative is to train existing bylaw officers. Enforcement can be rolled out in a phased plan with plenty of public notice.

3. Choose two appropriate parks to open up to dogs when licensing reaches 65%.

More responsible owners helps ensure space for dogs and their owners. Calgary uses both a carrot and stick approach, and it produces results for everyone.

4. Establish more rigorous health & safety and environmental criteria

There are parks where the presence of dogs will not be so successful as others. The Council Report (PDF version here) has marked some parks that are inappropriate as dogs permitted, and this needs to be addressed.

Entire parks with playground equipment should be no dog.
Current no dog parks for children should be respected (e.g. Tantalus, Park Verdun, Horseshoe Bay near the children's play equipment)
School walking routes that reduce driving should be respected (e.g. Tantalus, Batchelor Bay)

Current Picnic areas & parks where people sit on the ground to eat should be respected. (e.g. Whytecliff west of Marine)
100% of swimming beach parks should be respected (e.g. Radcliffe, Sandy Cove, Stearman, Pilot, Larson, Bachelor, Copper Cove, Whytecliff)
No dog access for streams due to dog waste, as well as for salmon, & for shorelines where wildlife feeds.

5. Improve existing off-leash areas

This has been done in Seattle (Coladog.org) through empowering owners to fundraise for amenities.


6. Seek community support, not just consultation

Conduct statistically valid telephone survey regarding any proposed park changes and ensure neighborhoods support changes to their parks. The district may want to consider establishing a community planning group as per Ambleside.

Make a Difference

If you would like to work towards more responsible dog ownership, and safety & harmony in our parks, here's how:

Join iCare
By joining iCare, you add your voice to the growing number of people who are concerned about responsible dog ownership (plus, we do much of the advocacy work on your behalf). Please join us now.

Voice Your Concern to the District
Please take 5 minutes right now to email council, bylaw services and the parks department. You may want to cite iCare's recommendations. You don’t need to write a long email. It just has to be sent. Copying your letter to the media is also helpful.

Who to send your email to:

Council: MayorandCouncil@westvancouver.ca

North Shore News: editor@nsnews.com




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