Cultus Lake Park Board nixes controversial off-leash dog swim area

Board responds to vocal opposition and petition against the unfenced area at Main Beach

The Cultus Lake Park Board backtracked this week on a previous decision to allow an unfenced, off-leash dog swim area at the west end of Main Beach.

The board decided in March that the shallow water by the foot bridge near the mouth of Sweltzer Creek was a good spot to allow off-leash dogs.

The backlash from residents was strong and immediate, as the move was made without consultation.

“Pooches need a lake spot to cool down where they have space to run,” part-time resident Heather Pauls said this week before the board was set to consider a petition to spike the idea. “The dog park location they’re putting forward is tiny, and only steps away from many young families in a high density housing area. Some dogs are not safe around children, and some kids are not gentle with dogs.”

In a letter to the board back in May, resident Tris Williams also expressed her opposition.

“As you are aware this is a very busy area for young children and visitors. It is also a no dog zone. The area is heavily used by young children and I worry about the dangers of a dog off-leash swim area in such close proximity to a large children’s play area.”

Williams pointed out there are already two easily accessible dog swim areas at Cultus Lake. They are on either side of Sunnyside Campground.

On May 23, the board was presented with a petition signed by at least 65 individuals

“On busy days, hundreds of visitors and residents, especially babies, toddlers and young children, enjoy the beach front immediately adjacent to the dog swim area,” the petition said in part. “They will now be at the mercy of the dogs’ whims and the dog owners’ ability to command their dog.”

The petition noted that this very same area was proposed as a dog swim area in 2004 but that, too, was rescinded.

At the May 23 meeting of the board, Commissioner Rose Turcasso said she had been approached by several lakers complaining about the lack of a dog swim area at that end of the lake, according to Rick Williamson, a laker who emails out recaps of park board meetings.

At that meeting, the board decided the location in question would be tested out to be reassessed in the spring of 2019.

The board did also agree to accept and consider the petition that was circulating. In that petition, the authors suggested the area should not be used even on a trial basis.

“It is simply far too dangerous when considering the sheer number of children who are in immediate proximity to the unleashed dogs.”

As the new dog swim area was included in a bylaw, that bylaw had to be amended to remove it. At the June 20 meeting, and in response to the petition, the board gave first, second and third reading to the amendment to remove the new dog swim area.

• RELATED: Off-leash dogs attack B.C. senior, pit bull

• RELATED: Pit bull involved in vicious attack in Chilliwack to be destroyed

• RELATED: A brand-new off-leash dog park opens in Chilliwack


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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The location of the new designated dog swim area at the west end of Main Beach by Sweltzer Creek, which the Cultus Lake Park Board removed June 20 in response to a petition. (Google Maps)

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