A recent proposal to reword White Rock’s animal control bylaw to effectively ban dogs from any part of the city’s beach did not pass muster at city hall.
In suggesting amendments to various bylaws, staff last week (Oct. 8) had recommended the dog-specific change because a May 2012 amendment allowing dogs on the beach west of Bay Street “offended the environment committee,” explained Paul Stanton, the city’s director of planning and development services.
It was also troublesome to the provincial environment agency that monitors such areas, he said, citing concerns raised about the impact of allowing dogs on the beach.
“We’re essentially removing anything that actually permits it, recognizing it will be difficult to enforce,” Stanton said.
But council members were not convinced the decision was a good one, voting instead to reinsert the clause that staff wanted to remove: “Notwithstanding, dogs may be permitted on the beach area west of a line extending in a straight line from the centre line of Bay St. south to the 49th parallel.”
In discussing the issue, Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted that allowing dogs on the beach was one of the first matters council dealt with following their election in November 2011.
To undo the permission given in May 2012 “seems like we’re going in reverse,” he said.
Coun. Larry Robinson was not convinced that environmental concerns were behind the proposed ban.
“My God, if the few dogs we see are damaging (the area), it must be ecological disaster from Findlay (Street) to the east and Blackie Spit must be a wasteland,” he said.
“If that is the reason for making the change, I’m not buying it.”
Changes to the bylaw that received support were a revised definition of the promenade area to allow flexibility for its future extension; and, putting the authority to designate a dog as aggressive in the hands of bylaw enforcement officers.
In the current bylaw, Stanton has that authority and, at the same time, is required to hear any appeals of such designations.
“I actually get put in a conflict when we have a repeat offender,” he said. “I have to be the bad guy.”
The amendments received first, second and third reading at the Oct. 8 meeting, and are due for final consideration on Oct. 21.