Let’s add science to the dog debate
I have dogs and I’ve lived in Saanich for 39 years. In my opinion the difficulty with the dog debate is that almost all of the evidence is anecdotal.
Expressed opinions range from “my family is terrified to go anywhere because of dogs” and “every time I go to Mount Doug my dog gets attacked” on the one hand, to “I’ve never seen a dog chase a bird” or “I’ve never witnessed a dog scuffle” on the other.
Saanich’s Pets in Parks initiative is based solely on anecdotal reporting and surveys. So the results will be worthless.
I’d like to see some real science introduced into the debate, based on verifiable observations. Otherwise off-leash dogs will join deer, speeding on the Malahat and amalgamation as one of the evergreen Victoria issues: Never to go away.
Dogs and people don’t always mix
I am sure that all the other people who have written in with “solutions” to the “dog problem” are sure that they have the right answer — all of which reinforces to me that dog lovers and apprehensive people are too polarized to amicably share space. Mixed use of parks has been shown not to work.
Many other cities have realized this and have separated the concerned parties instead of trying to make rules to accommodate both.
With adequate signage, people could be warned against entering areas where dogs are allowed, and dogs could be banned from areas where nervous people would be uncomfortable.
This could include specific trails and maybe beaches. I don’t think dogs are particularly sensitive to ocean views.
I am not sure why anyone who has a dog that they cannot control would want to let it off leash and risk never seeing it again or spend hours trying to find it.
I am equally unsure why anyone who feels uncomfortable around dogs would go into an area clearly marked for use by off-leash dogs.
Separation has worked in other jurisdictions. There are of course a few incidents of conflict, but that is true of any regulated system. People will generally co-operate if alternatives are provided.
Dogs get priority, others left to streets
Re: “Saanich seeks more input on dogs in parks,” Jan. 28.
I have been living with lupus for more than a decade. On a bad day this means I can barely get out of bed. On a good day it means I can go for a walk, sometimes for up to an hour before the pain sets in.
However, I am restricted to just two parks in all of Saanich and neither is close to my home. Why just two parks? Because Saanich allows dogs in every other park.
I live five minutes from PKOLS-Mount Douglas Park, but if I were to get knocked off my feet by a dog it would be life altering.
Therefore I stay away, forced to enjoy my good days on sidewalks instead of local parks and beaches like I once enjoyed.
I was a dog owner for years and understand that love and companionship.
What I don’t understand is how the present situation in our parks became so imbalanced, with dog owners having priority access to virtually every park and those of us uncomfortable or unable to be near dogs relegated to city streets.
I hope Saanich listens to the quiet voices like mine.
Off-leash dogs in sensitive natural parks
Re: “Saanich seeks more input on dogs in parks,” Jan. 28.
Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock states that Saanich’s 2021 and 2022 summer pop-up dog parks were well-received, and people have expressed an interest in creating more permanent places where dogs can be off-leash.
Fun fact: all of the parks in which pop-up parks were piloted permitted dogs to be off-leash both inside and outside the fenced enclosures.
You read that right. Saanich put up fences for off-leash dog parks within parks that were already off-leash all year long. Why? Because the entire municipality of Saanich is, by default, leash-optional and therefore parks where dogs are required to be leashed could not be found.
Murdock went on to say that Saanich’s pet strategy should also address concerns related to protecting ecosystems, preventing wildlife disturbance, “and making sure that we’re being sensitive to the potential impacts of where those dogs can exercise.”
As part of its selection criteria for the pop-up dog park pilots, Saanich determined that a park would not be considered for a fenced designated dog park if it is zoned P4N (Natural Park) or P5 (Conservation).
And yet Saanich currently permits dogs off leash in its unenclosed P4N Parks, including parks established for the protection of rare sensitive ecosystems such as PKOLS-Mount Douglas. That’s a real head-scratcher.
Our natural-area parks are too sensitive to have enclosed dog parks but not sensitive enough to be used as unenclosed dog parks? An embarrassing inconsistency that needs to be remedied in the People, Pets and Parks strategy.
Many benefits from the petroleum industry
Re: “Morgan’s columns should come with a health warning,” column, Jan. 29.
Trevor Hancock would like us to believe that using fossil fuels is bad for our health. However, I would beg to differ.
Since the invention of the internal combustion engine and its widespread use over a century ago, people rich and poor have benefited greatly from an increase in life expectancy and quality of life.
Those engines in their many forms power agriculture and manufacture of the food and products we use, and they deliver these same goods by land, sea and air, as well as enable private and public transportation.
It will be decades before alternatives are found.
They also power the generators that produce electricity in many parts of the world, and petroleum products such as plastic are important for food packaging to keep it safe and longer lasting, as well as the packaging of many other products.
Let’s not censor the views of others
I am becoming increasingly distressed by many Canadians eagerly and readily approving of the censorship of free speech. Some go so far as to call for the removal of various television channels. Censorship is widespread on social media.
A letter-writer wanted to ban Gwyn Morgan’s views from the Times Colonist, simply because he disagrees with his views.
Often attributed to Voltaire, may I badly paraphrase the aphorism: “While I disagree with you, I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Something like grain through a goose
I recently observed many Canada geese grazing in a sports field in Esquimalt, right next to Archie Browning Sports Centre. There were some 100 geese in the flock, grazing or sleeping.
In the field was a prominent sign, erected by Esquimalt city workers, saying “Field closed due to unsafe field conditions.” I assume said conditions include the goose poop everywhere, including the softball running lanes.
A kid might try to slide into base, and instead skid in goose poop. A polite version of an old saying is “like grain through a goose.” Go to that field, and you’ll realize what that means, in a field originally set up for kids to play.
By the way, don’t get too close when you look. Geese, including Canada geese, are well known for being fierce attackers with their heavy wings and hard beaks.
Perhaps our “Be Kind To Geese” folk could explain how Canada geese benefit us in this case? Tell us, for example, how setting strings across the grass might deter geese from grazing.
And remember, all this is in the very place where our children and young people play soccer and softball. There was never natural territory there in open fields of grass. It would likely have been bushes and small trees.
Marx and Engels? Try Adam Smith instead
Re: “Path out of poverty is productive work,” letter, Jan. 28.
The letter somehow equated the taxation of the rich to “the ideals espoused by Marx and Engels in their Communist Manifesto of 1848.
Presumably, the writer is also familiar with the writings of an economist named Adam Smith, whose The Wealth of Nations is often praised as a foundational document of the so-called free-market economy.
Smith had his own views of taxation, and developed four “canons” on the subject. The first reads as follows: “The subjects of every state ought to contribute as nearly as possible in proportion to their respective abilities, that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”
Marxist? Hardly, unless the principle of fairness is considered anti-capitalist.
As for the old “teach a man to fish” trope, the writer should bear in mind that not everyone can afford a boat. The best fishermen I know catch enough for themselves to eat, and if they have extra, they don’t stuff it in a freezer on Grand Cayman; they share it with their friends and neighbours.
Region’s housing issue is nothing new
“On 26 January 1946, thirty veterans led by a Canadian Legion sergeant-at-arms occupied the old Hotel Vancouver to protest against the acute housing problem in Vancouver.” So wrote historian Jill Wade in 1986.
It would seem that plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose continues to reflect the state of housing in Vancouver and Victoria.
Perhaps we today could learn from the actions of our forebears.
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