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No support for dogs on White Rock's promenade

Mike Armstrong calls on White Rock council to follow through on election promises to make the city more dog-friendly, including by allowing dogs on the promenade.  - Tracy Holmes photo
Mike Armstrong calls on White Rock council to follow through on election promises to make the city more dog-friendly, including by allowing dogs on the promenade.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes photo

A suggestion to allow dogs on White Rock’s promenade west of the pier from Sept. 15 to May 15 didn’t make it past the gate at Monday’s council meeting.

The motion by Coun. Helen Fathers – posed following a delegation asking council to make the city, and particularly the promenade, more dog-friendly – received no support from other members of council, preventing the suggestion from even being discussed.

“No seconder – the motion’s lost,” Mayor Wayne Baldwin proclaimed.

Disappointment with the result was audible from the approximately two dozen residents who turned out to the meeting hoping council would see fit to relax its dog rules on the waterfront.

But it hasn’t lessened the resolve of those determined to improve access for owners.

“Not giving up, not at all,” Mike Armstrong told Peace Arch News Wednesday.

Armstrong, representing DOG White Rock, presented to council the case for access. He told the politicians the issue was “not a yes or no question,” but about accommodating the estimated 40 per cent of White Rock residents who have dogs, as well as those who visit the city with their four-legged friends.

Citing statistics from cities that have added off-leash parks and other amenities for dog owners, Armstrong said benefits of such a move for White Rock would include improved tourism, increased revenue, less poop and reduced crime.

Armstrong noted the city’s existing bylaw – which director of planning and development services Paul Stanton described as “ambiguous and poorly written” –  allows dogs on the grassy area east of the pier, to Cypress Street.

Armstrong proposed that council move the allowable area – which Baldwin quipped was only legally accessible to dogs if they were brought in by boat or plane – to a less-populated stretch of waterfront west of the pier.

While Fathers’ motion was not supported, Baldwin said the issue has “got to be dealt with in some fashion.”

He asked for staff to look at and clarify the bylaw, and confirmed the topic of improved access for dogs could be part of a community forum regarding the waterfront that is planned for April.

Armstrong said Wednesday he was surprised more definitive action was not supported, particularly since the majority of the current council indicated support for it pre-election.

At a Nov. 2 all-candidates meeting, “they all put up their hands” except Couns. Grant Meyer and Al Campbell, he said.

“Some of them now are forgetting what they put their hands up to,” he said.

“Call me naive, but I thought that at least they would throw some initial trial of something. But there was nothing. Nobody even wanted to suggest Helen (Fathers) modify it.”

During question period, prior to Armstrong’s delegation, two residents raised the issue.

Eva Hompoth – who has organized a dog walk from city hall (15322 Buena Vista Ave.) in support of the cause for noon Sunday – asked why there is no off-leash park in the city.

“That’s a good question,” Baldwin responded, noting the issue is identified in the city’s parks plan as “something that should be looked at.”

Susan Potzold spoke against allowing dogs on the promenade, asking if the facility were to open to the pets, “would council allow me to ride my bike on the promenade?”

Potzold said she is concerned that allowing dogs on the waterfront could lead to the same issue that arose for the Semiahmoo First Nation at Semiahmoo Park, where many dog owners neglected to clean up after their pets.

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