OUR QUESTIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. What do you think are essential components of evidence-based decisions, how would you bring them to your role on council?
The motto of my podcast about environmental issues is, “for fans of science-based facts and fact-based reality.” I’ve been a professional journalist since I was a teenager. I’m used to doing my own research. One of the first things I did when I received this survey was reach out to a friend who runs a dog-training company to get her take on best practices in Canada.
2. Why do you think the ‘on and off leash’ dog issue has become so divisive, how would you help to heal this rift in our community?
Most issues become divisive the same way – miscommunication and/or lack of communication. I’d hope People, Pets and Parks will address this.
3. Will you commit to making a change to or reversing any of the current bylaws that newly restrict dog access, such as Gyro Park? What information would you want to use to make such a change?
It’s my understanding that Gyro Park is a federal bird sanctuary, in which case I’d think federal laws would overrule anything the municipality could do. Federal law is quite clear – and rather draconian – about both dogs and cats in Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.
5 (1) No person who owns a dog or cat shall permit the dog or cat to run at large in a migratory bird sanctuary.
(2) A game officer may destroy any dog or cat found chasing or molesting migratory birds in a migratory bird sanctuary.
As someone who loves dogs and cats I’m trying to find out more about the history and boundaries of the sanctuary and whether there are, or could be, areas that don’t have official sanctuary designation.
4. How do you see the current pop-up parks pilot fitting into a broader strategy for park use and sharing? Do you see them as a core of the solution? Why or why not.
It’s an interesting approach and – being a fan of evidence-based decision-making -I’m looking forward to finding out how well they work.
5. Do you own a dog? Where do you take your dog? Do you use on or off-leash areas?
I’m designated dog-sitter for the standard poodle who rules a couple of close friends and we just did a visit to Esquimalt Gorge Park where we played in both the on and off-leash areas. I’m friends with a dog trainer and occasionally visit her classes. My mom has worked with this trainer running classes and always has (at least) a couple of dogs. My wife and I are currently owned by two Norwegian Forest cats. One is leash-trained and she attended a puppy training class. The other can shake out of a leash like Houdini and once managed to slide out of her leash outside her vet’s and then went exploring the island for three months - so she stays inside
6. In your opinion do you think the $200k people, pets and parks project will create enough information to make good decisions on the issue? Why or why not? What would you change, remove or add to the scope to improve the outcome of the project?
I hope so. It would be troubling if a $200,000 survey can’t provide enough information to guide solid decision-making. This appears to be a very ambitious attempt to consult the community and stakeholders. I hope that anyone concerned about this issue has shared, or will be sharing, their ideas and concerns. The best way to improve the outcome is to participate - and for Council and city staff to ensure that people are aware of how they can participate.
7. What would you do to get the owners of the estimated 10-15,000 unlicensed dogs in Saanich to purchase a license?
The dog trainer I spoke with says the best – and most-appreciated - licensing program she’s aware of is Calgary’s. The Calgary program emphasizes that their licenses improve their ability to track and return lost dogs and cats. This provides a strong incentive to participate. The Calgary program appears to have serious support from the community. I’m not sure if you can share links, but just in case, there’s an editorial in the Calgary Sun headlined: “ If you love your pet, put a licence on it.
8. Do you think Saanich has good information about who uses our parks, when, why and how often? Please explain your thoughts and what you might want to add, change or augment.
I’d hope that after doing a $200,000 survey that information will be solid.
9. In terms of a strategy for the people of Saanich and their Parks, what are your ideas and plans for supporting the variety of parks and pet-owners (off-leash designated areas; on-leash designated areas; no dog areas; accessible areas for both dog and non-dog owners, other ideas).
As a fan of following the evidence, I’d want to study the results of the Peoples, Parks and Pets report. Thank you for providing these questions and I hope that you and all your dogs are staying happy.