About a dozen houses along Gonzales Avenue in Fairfield have been cut off from mail deliveries for the past six weeks after Canada Post cited concerns about loose dogs straying from nearby Pemberton Park.
Residents of Gonzales have had to pick up their mail at Canada Post’s Glanford Avenue sorting plant about six kilometres away, and more recently from a facility on Fort Street.
But it isn’t the mail that’s bothering residents.
“I think most of us are fine with the off-leash dog area … they have so few places to go and we certainly don’t want anyone to take that away,” said Marg Kavanagh, who lives across the street from Pemberton Park.
“We just want the city to put up 40 feet of chain link fence, and a gate, to close off the park. It’s such a simple solution, a no-brainer, really,” said Kavanagh.
Kavanagh said she gets dogs in her yard “about every two days,” but all of the dog owners she’s encountered are “responsible and extremely apologetic.”
Her concern is for the safety of the dogs as traffic along Gonzales is increasing after bike lanes narrowed Richardson Street and drivers use Gonzales as a shortcut to Foul Bay Road. There’s also a pathway that’s popular with parents and students heading to and from Margaret Jenkins School.
The entire 1800-block of Gonzales Avenue — between Richardson Street and Foul Bay Road — was given notes by Canada Post carriers last month, saying their mail would no longer be delivered because of safety concerns for its carriers.
A message left for a Canada Post spokesperson was not returned Friday.
Brian Jamieson, president of CUPW Local 850 which represents postal workers in the region, said he could not comment directly on the notices — nor what it would take to lift the mail delivery ban.
However, Jamieson did say dog bites are a serious issue and a fear for postal carriers.
Jamieson said over his 28-year career as a carrier, he’s been bitten six times — the last incident requiring a trip to the hospital.
“It can happen at any time and without provocation,” he said. “Everyone says their dog is friendly, but [bites] happen.”
He said the only defence carriers have is their mail bags. They don’t carry pepper spray or any other deterrents and no longer pack dog treats which have been used in the past to greet regular dogs and placate others.
Brian Rogers, another Gonzales Avenue resident, said he’s been getting the runaround.
“We are now in our sixth week with no help in sight,” Rogers said.
He’s emailed Coun. Ben Issit, Fairfield’s representative on city council, who suggested Rogers speak with Canada Post. So he wrote to the mayor and council, who replied in one line they were in talks with animal control and Canada Post.
“All that’s needed is 40 feet of fence … the mind boggles,” said Rogers.
A city spokesman said Victoria’s parks department has been in contact with Canada Post, and that bylaw officers have been frequenting Pemberton Park to remind people to be watchful of their dogs.
Bill Eisenhauer said a fence is not planned for the area. Rather, the city will increase signage and step up patrols with Victoria Animal Control, which is contracted by the city to enforce rules around dogs.
He said only two of Victoria’s 15 off-leash parks are completely fenced — Alexander Park at Bay and Oregon, and Victoria West Parks.
The city is awaiting Canada Post to respond to their measures.
The corporation has told the city that a postal carrier was not bitten in the area, but felt threatened by an unleashed dog.
“We want people to take responsibility for their dogs,” said Eisenhauer. “If they don’t we will be enforcing.”
Kavanagh and her husband, Sandy, often watch “with delight” the dogs playing in the park. They have a West Highland Terrier, but don’t go to the park because she fears her pet might run home across the street.
Kavanagh said she’s been told that Victoria parks officials want to keep the park open at the spot across from her house so they can easily bring in mowing and landscaping equipment. “But a simple solution is a fence and gates, one for parks and another for people.”