After much debate and public consultation, the City of White Rock has approved an one-year trial program to permit dogs on the promenade during the off-season.
At its regular meeting Monday, council voted unanimously in favour of the program, which would allow leashed dogs on the popular walkway from Oct. 1 to March 31. Dogs will still be prohibited from the beach.
“I have to say, when we originally did this, I thought it was going to be a slam-dunk and no one would be opposed to the trial,” Coun. Scott Kristjanson told council. “Clearly, I was wrong about that. It’s a much more passionate debate than I had realized.”
Before the vote, Coun. Anthony Manning told council he would like to see those in support and opposed to the trial, as well as bylaw staff, come together to define what a successful trial period would look like.
“Any successful trial needs to have some controls and we haven’t defined what those controls are as a council, otherwise we’re not going to know if the trial period is successful,” Manning said to council.
Coun. Erika Johanson said she would like to see a committee formed to determine how to implement the trial. The trial period will not be enacted until Oct. 1.
“My sense is that this ought to be put off until the fall, by which time we should have a better idea of what the laws, rules and so on look like,” Mayor Darryl Walker said.
The issue has been one of contention among residents for years. It was subject of a failed motion in 2012 and topic of a city survey in 2017.
Prior to making a final decision Monday, the city conducted a survey, hosted a community forum, and collected written public input to weigh public interest in allowing dogs on the promenade.
Survey results presented to council showed that 75.58 per cent of 1,388 respondents were in favour of dogs on the promenade. Of those 1,388 respondents, 63.04 per cent said they own a dog.
The city received more than 50 written or emailed correspondence from residents on the issue.
Among the more common issues brought up by residents in the written correspondence were concerns with irresponsible dog owners, disturbances to wildlife, intimidation brought on by big dogs, and safety concerns with young children and elderly residents sharing the pathway with dogs.