Dog owners in North Cowichan will have access to more off-leash areas for at least one year as of Jan. 1.
At its meeting on Dec. 16, North Cowichan’s council decided to add three more off-leash sites in the municipality that are in or near foreshore areas, on a trial basis.
They are the Pender Street stairs in Genoa Bay, the foreshore in Crofton Beach Park and the foreshore from Cook Street to Vista Grande in Chemainus.
However, the new off-leash rules at the sites won’t apply during the summer months, from June 16 to Sept. 30, when the sites become busier with other recreational users.
The municipality decided to give the green light to more off-leash areas because the desire for more dog access to oceanfront beaches has consistently been an ongoing request from the community.
Coun. Kate Marsh thanked Ernie Mansueti, the municipality’s former director of parks, forestry and recreation, and his staff for all their work in preparation for adding the three new off-leash areas.
“I’m sure we’ll get some kickback, but I’m hoping the people using the sites will be responsible dog owners,” she said.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea to add these areas on a trial basis.”
A staff report from Don Stewart, North Cowichan’s current director of parks and recreation, said information and education campaigns for the public will also be part of the trial project.
“Public messaging will start at the access points [to the off-leash areas] and will build from there to confirm where dogs are permitted, what level of control dog owners should employ and the services provided,” he said.
Stewart said staff are also developing videos on a number of related issues as part of the trial program.
They include videos visualizing what “strong voice control” for dogs represents, locations of new or refined off-leash areas, understanding North Cowichan’s new signage, specifically the water access signage, and the campaign to encourage users to bring their own bags for dog poop.