LETTERS: Council listening to the people but ignoring the experts

Editor:

The White Rock beach is part of the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area, and is on the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds. Despite the scientific evidence showing the presence of dogs (even on a leash) to be harmful to wildlife, White Rock city council is planning to conduct a trial of allowing leashed dogs on the promenade during the main migratory season for birds.

The question that must be asked is this: What data is council hoping for from this trial that is not already established in the scientific literature?

In their zeal to listen to the public, our city council has either failed to access, or conveniently ignored, decades of research established by wildlife professionals. This body of evidence has revealed that the presence or even the lingering scent of dogs can cause wildlife to become less active during the day, and move out of the area in an effort to avoid predators. The presence of dogs can alarm and stress birds to the point that they alter their migrating, eating, and resting patterns. The presence of dogs also pollutes water and transmits harmful diseases.

Council is basically proposing to try something out that has already been proven to have a negative effect on the sensitive foreshore environment. This is unacceptable, and the people of White Rock have the right to expect more from our elected officials.

We have the right to expect our city council to do extensive and thorough research to support such an action. We have the right to expect them to keep their commitment to nurture and protect the environment (City of White Rock’s corporate vision statement), and we have the right to expect our council to be proactive in protecting our city’s most precious asset.

A thriving wildlife environment on our foreshore could attract a host of visitors, including photographers and tourists. They will all want to eat or shop in the Marine Drive business area. No expensive signs or doggy bag dispensers will be required.

The lack of critical inquiry supporting this trial period is appalling and even embarrassing.

What we are learning from this council is that listening to the people, but ignoring the experts, is a direct democracy in action.

Beverly OMalley, White Rock

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