A dog visits the White Rock promenade. (File photo)

Dogs-on-promenade question spurs debate

City of White Rock conducts survey ‘to engage, educate pet owners’

City of White Rock officials are looking to get a better handle on the number of dogs in the city, as well as where their owners might like for them to be allowed.

Communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi confirmed Friday that a door-to-door survey was undertaken this month as “part of some of the steps the city is doing to have a better understanding of how many dogs are actually in White Rock as some dog owners are not aware of the requirements of the Animal Control and Licensing Bylaw.”

The survey included a question about dogs on the pier or promenade. And while that question sparked a lot of chatter on social media, Farrokhi said it does not mean that dogs may soon be allowed on the waterfront.

“The intent of the question was not to raise expectations regarding allowing dogs on the promenade but rather to engage our dog owners on where dogs are allowed,” she told Peace Arch News by email.

A question on the city’s off-leash dog park was also included in the survey, she noted.

On the Facebook site, If you live in South Surrey/White Rock, commenters in favour of dogs on the waterfront – which has been a hot topic many times over the years – expressed everything from being “ridiculously excited” that the city is considering it, to appeals to maintain the status quo.

“Keep them off the walkway and west beach please,” writes Michelle Zally, in a comment referencing a need for “real” leashes.

Kari Olsen Mclennan noted that children and seniors often feel threatened by the “very normal actions of dogs.”

“The promenade can be very busy at times and unpredictable behaviour from some dogs add an extra challenge,” she writes.

Myrna Mason’s suggestion of a designated stretch of beach, or following the example set in Crescent Beach of allowing dogs in the off-season, received some support. “Makes sense to me – it works well in cb,” writes Betty Blanchette-Hovan.

Farrokhi said bylaw officers have advised that many dog owners aren’t aware that dogs are not allowed on White Rock’s promenade. She said the next step for the city will be to distribute an “educational brochure” to raise awareness, as well as record feedback from dog owners.

“So, the city’s continued focus will be getting a higher percentage of dogs licensed in White Rock and ensuring dog owners are aware of their responsibilities,” she said, noting the need for such a survey was discussed in a Dec. 12, 2016 corporate report.

The approach is similar to that conducted in Port Moody three years ago, which was successful in increasing the number of licensed dogs and educating owners, Farrokhi said.

“We hope to have similar successes as well.”