Critics want White Rock to press paws on pooch-friendly promenade
Art vendor concerned about bad behaviour from dogs, which remain banned from walkway ahead of pilot project
Ric Wallace has a bone to pick with pet owners who are violating White Rock's municipal bylaws.
On Sunday, the local artist and photographer says it was business as usual at his art stand on the busy promenade by the pier — until a dog showed up.
The unwelcome pup started sniffing near a crate of his artwork valued at nearly $1,500.
"The dog walks over, lifts his leg, and goes squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt, squirt!" a frustrated Wallace told CBC News. "I said, 'Your dog just pissed all over my prints!' "
Dogs aren't allowed on the boardwalk in White Rock — but they will be soon.
It's become a divisive issue in the city, with Wallace being one of many residents who aren't happy with a new municipal pilot project that will allow the pets to walk the promenade on a leash during the off-season.
He says he's urged the city to reconsider its position, citing concerns for the safety and wellbeing of kids, seniors, and wildlife — but his calls have fallen on deaf ears.
A pilot project
In January, White Rock city council unanimously voted in favour of a temporary pilot project allowing dogs on the boardwalk. After several more rounds of community consultation, the city decided to adjust its bylaws starting October to the end of March.
Dogs will be able to walk the promenade with a leash. They will continue to be banned from the beach.
"All municipalities have an issue that will come forward and there will be some people for it and some people against it," said Farnaz Farrokhi, a city spokesperson.
She says the city will establish a committee to assess the overall impact of the pilot project.
Critics including Wallace say the recent approval has led to an influx of dogs on the promenade even though bylaws currently ban it.
Farrokhi admits the excitement of some pet owners might have lead them to jump the gun.
"Our bylaw enforcement officers have increased the number of patrols on the promenade," she said.
She says all pet owners confronted by bylaw officers have complied.
Dog owners rejoice
For residents like Steph Gross, the city's decision marks a major victory in what's become an increasingly frustrating situation for pet owners.
"There's a little area [where they allow dogs] near the East Beach, but that's about it," she said. "The problem with the beach is there are [sand fleas], and they can irritate the dogs."
As the city grapples with growing pains including construction along Marine Drive and repairing its pier, Gross thinks allowing dogs on the promenade could help attract more tourists.
"It deters people from coming down here with their dogs ... and there's enough issues here on Marine Drive trying to revitalize it and bring business to it," she said.
"If there was a small select area, that might bring more people in. It will at least open it up for people with dogs," she added.