British Columbia

White Rock dog fight heads to public forum

An open house will hear from groups for and against allowing dogs on the White Rock promenade between September and April.

Open house will hear from those for and against allowing dogs on promenade 8 months of the year

A public forum on lifting the dog ban along the White Rock promenade goes Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the White Rock Community Centre. (Christine Larsen)

Pro-dog and anti-dog groups in White Rock, B.C., will square off Wednesday night over a proposed pilot project to allow Rover and Spot on the beachside promenade eight months of the year.

Officials are expecting a packed house at a public forum after council unanimously approved allowing leashed dogs on the popular stroll between the months of September and April.

The plan is currently on hold after city staff recommended that more community consultation was needed.

Dogs are currently banned completely from the White Rock promenade and Patricia Kealy, who runs the Facebook page "No Dogs on the Promenade," would like see it stay that way.

"There's just not enough room for dogs and people to interact safely," she said. 

The pilot project proposes allowing leashed dogs on the promenade between September and April. (Facebook/No Dogs on the Promenade)

Poop, urine, conflicts

According to Kealy allowing dogs on the narrow promenade will trigger an onslaught of problems like poop, urine and leash-tangling conflicts.

But the man who pitched the idea to White Rock council to allow dogs says the ban is "blocking an entire demographic from enjoying the city." 

Opponents say the White Rock promenade is too narrow to accommodate dogs. (Christine Larsen)

Michael Armstrong, who unsuccessfully ran for council on a pro-dogs platform, says any problems arising from allowing dogs can be easily managed if the city enforces its own bylaws.

'Manage by exception'

"I've enjoyed communities where it's inclusive and everybody's welcome and those communities just manage by exception," he said. "So if there's five per cent of the public that pollute or don't pick up or create noise, those people are dealt with through bylaws."  

Armstrong, who is behind the "Dogs in White Rock" Facebook page, believes lifting the ban will attract more people to the promenade, which in turn will boost businesses along the beach and increase city parking revenue.  

But Kealy says the opposite is true.

Proponents say any problems arising from lifting the dog ban could be easily managed through bylaw enforcement. (Christine Larsen)

"The argument that maybe more people would come down to the beach and help businesses, that's wrong. Just as many people would stay away if there were dogs," she said.

Armstrong says well over 40 per cent of White Rock households have a dog, but Kealy questions how that can be possible with only 631 dog licences registered in a population of 20,000 people.

The public forum begins at 6 p.m. at the White Rock Community Centre.

The proposal does not include allowing dogs on the White Rock pier, which remains closed after it was destroyed in a windstorm last month.

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