Declaring the controversial trial project a success, White Rock councillors agreed Monday evening to allow dogs back on promenade from Oct. 1 to March 31.
The decision didn’t require a bylaw adjustment because, as it turns out, the bylaw amendment to allow last year’s pilot project was permanent.
At the meeting, director of planning Carl Isaak explained to councillors that when the city approved a bylaw amendment last year for the pilot, it only referenced a month and a day, not a year.
“I understand that originally the intention was for the bylaw to have a trial period so it would be automatically expiring. But it was subsequently amended without that automatic expiry so that is what is currently in place and would carry on October 1,” Isaac said.
Council voted to keep the bylaw, as is, and to allow the Dogs on the Promenade Task Force to meet one last time to prepare recommendations to council on possible adjustments to the program.
Task force chairman Coun. Scott Kristjanson, who requested the final meeting, told Peace Arch News Tuesday that before a decision is made by council, councillors should hear recommendations from the task force, which is made up of members of the public.
“The point of this was public engagement and to hear from both sides, and to have the public decide what they want to do,” Kristjanson said. “Lets finish that. Let’s have our group meet one last time and make formal recommendations to council.”
In its decision to keep the status quo, council voted against a staff recommendation to allow dogs on the promenade year-round, but only from the Oxford Comfort Station (14785 Marine Dr.) to Bayview Park (14586 Marine Dr.).
In a report to council, city staff said year-round but limited dog access is a fair compromise, and allows for clearer signage and more consistent enforcement.
Kristjanson said while the staff recommendation is not his first preference, the task force will be open to discussing it.
“I think people have raised some serious concerns about during the summer that it gets too crowded for dogs. And, I think there’s some legitimate point to that. And to have the west side, while it seems like it might be fair, it really kind of ignores the concerns that were raised in those (task force) meetings,” Kristjanson said.
Isaak told council that majority of people who received a violation ticket for walking their dog on the promenade during the summer months were not residents of South Surrey or White Rock.
“Having a clear message is something staff sees as important no matter what direction council takes,” Isaak said.
Since April, 37 violation tickets have been issued for dogs on the promenade.
Coun. David Chesney said the city needs to go after violators with “a hammer-and-tong force.”
“If we’re going to bring this back, which I’m in full support of, it would be with a caveat that we go down there and any violators, we hammer them, and we hammer them hard,” Chesney said.
Coun. Anthony Manning noted during the meeting that the dogs on the promenade trial project paid for itself, when factoring in the number of dog licences the city has issued.
He said the first year of the project cost $25,000. In 2020, 917 dog owners registered their pet, bringing in more than $29,000 to the city.
In 2018 the city issued 716 dog licenses and in 2019 that number raised to 809.