Greater Victoria biologist Jacques Sirois hopes to educate residents about the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the need to keep dogs leashed on local beaches. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Greater Victoria biologist Jacques Sirois hopes to educate residents about the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the need to keep dogs leashed on local beaches. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

‘Give the beach a chance’: Biologist talks benefits of Saanich off-leash dog bylaw review

It’s not about being anti-dog but about ‘celebrating the natural environment’

Greater Victoria biologist Jacques Sirois feels banning unleashed dogs from Saanich beaches would help preserve the region’s natural environment.

Coun. Karen Harper submitted a report last month calling for a review of Saanich’s policies that permit off-leash dogs on beaches – which she pointed out were more than 20 years old.

The topic was up for discussion in a Feb. 24 council meeting that was dominated by public input.

READ ALSO: Councillor calls for review of off-leash dogs on Saanich beaches

Sirois, on Oak Bay resident and member of the Friends of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, was one of the dozens who spoke at the meeting. While many residents spoke against the bylaw review, several agreed with Sirois that it would be beneficial.

It’s a complicated issue that has a long history and requires a “reasonable conversation about how we deal with our beautiful public spaces” and change local beach culture, he explained.

The “pristine natural areas” are what draws people to Greater Victoria and need to be taken care of, Sirois explained. He pointed out that while there are many threats to local beaches such as littering and pollution, dogs have become an increasing problem over the last 30 to 40 years.

READ ALSO: Public input regarding off-leash dogs on Saanich beaches dominates council meeting

Situations involving pets make people very emotional, Sirois said, noting that he’s been a dog owner and understands. However, he emphasized that Saanich’s current off-leash dog bylaws contradict the federal government’s policies for migratory bird sanctuaries. The Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary (VHMBS) – established in 1923 – is one of three in the region and spans five municipalities from View Royal to Saanich.

The VHMBS protects the diverse wildlife in the area and prohibits loose pets but has been “largely forgotten in recent decades,” Sirois explained. This, he feels, is because it’s not well-enforced and because there are five local governments in the area making their own bylaws for beach use.

READ ALSO: Saanich dog walkers react to potential review of bylaws allowing off-leash dogs on beaches

Sirois was pleased to see that Harper understood the complicated aspects of the issue. For him, supporting the bylaw review is not about being anti-dog, but rather about protecting and “celebrating the natural environment.” He feels it’s a necessary part of the restoration process, and that the creation of official dog parks would help maintain the natural areas.

“Give the beach a chance,” he said.

Council will make a decision about the report during the March 2 meeting without further public input but correspondence will be accepted until noon on the day of the meeting.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

beachesDistrict of SaanichDogsSaanich

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary was established in 1923 and spans five municipalities from View Royal to Saanich. (Regional Migratory Bird Sanctuaries/Capital Regional District)

The Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary was established in 1923 and spans five municipalities from View Royal to Saanich. (Regional Migratory Bird Sanctuaries/Capital Regional District)

Just Posted

Sewer construction will mean limited access to West Shore Parkway from Sooke Road for the next week. (Courtesy of the City of Langford)
West Shore Parkway access limited from Sooke Road

Crews working on sewer construction for the next week

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak in two houses at the Mount St. Mary long-term care home on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at Victoria long-term care home

Resident, staff member test positive for COVID-19 at Mount St. Mary facility

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

The District of Sooke has launched a new online community engagement platform, letstalksooke.ca, where residents can share feedback and stay up to date on projects and initiatives that are happening in their community. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke launches online engagement portal

The District of Sooke has launched a new online community engagement platform… Continue reading

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Most Read