White Rock may be forced to tighten the leash when it comes to dogs on West Beach, following a request from the province’s ecological arm.
But it could be difficult to enforce the sure-to-be contentious bylaw if it is amended, notes the city’s chief administrative officer.
“It would be very difficult for (bylaw officers) to monitor and deal with that issue, so even on a best-efforts basis, I suspect if would be a challenge,” city manager Dan Bottrill told council Monday.
“It’s a very large waterfront with only a few resources available for bylaw (enforcement) to begin with.”
Currently, the city allows owners to walk their dogs on leash in an area at the far end of West Beach, between Bay and High streets.
If the bylaw is amended, dogs would not be allowed on West Beach at all.
The amendment to the city’s Animal Control and Licensing Bylaw was one of four recommendations to council from the province in regards to the foreshore lease-extension application to the province.
According to Bottrill, the province expressed concern for the ecological impact that dogs on the beach would make.
“I think they’ve taken this as an opportunity to again discuss that particular concern, particularly as it relates to our request to extend and renew our foreshore lease,” the city manager said.
Coun. Helen Fathers, a self-proclaimed dog owner herself, asked for further explanation of Bottrill’s comments, indicating that community complaints had likely spurred the recommendation to amend the bylaw.
“As a result of that, we’ve looked into the lease and realized that we probably shouldn’t have allowed dogs in that area,” she hypothesized, requesting clarification. “We’ve rectified that going forward with the lease, but we’re not really going to enforce it. It’s just to satisfy the lease requirements.
“I mean, it’s one thing to put it in there to satisfy the lease, but are we actually going to pursue it?”
When Bottrill responded that any bylaw infraction would have to be enforced, Fathers quipped, “I better make sure I’m wearing a disguise on that day then.”
Coun. Grant Meyer called the decision to renew the lease with the province a “no brainer,” but he said public consultation should be considered when it comes to the animal control and licensing bylaw amendment, as it would affect a number of residents.
The province’s request also raised questions from Couns. Dave Chesney and Lynne Sinclair concerning what Chesney called “the Lower Mainland’s number one off-leash outlaw dog park” located on Semiahmoo First Nation land abutting White Rock’s East Beach.
“It seems to me that East Beach or east of East Beach is being treated quite differently than West Beach,” Sinclair said. “It (is) worthy of comment to the province in the sense that we’re being onerously treated in terms of our own obligations, and it’s the same bay.
“I am concerned that people are not going to have any place to let their dogs off-leash in the way that they can now, and I think that we will hear from them.”
Council voted to hold off on voting for the fourth recommendation concerning the bylaw amendment until public consultation is made.
A date has yet to be set.