A majority of people voicing their opinion – or providing written submissions to the city – favour allowing dogs on White Rock’s promenade in off-season months, Coun. Helen Fathers said.
Fathers said that a public meeting chaired by Mayor Darryl Walker Jan. 30 to gather community input on a proposed bylaw amendment – which would allow leashed dogs on the promenade from September through April for a one-year trial – showed a distinct leaning toward the measure.
But resident Susan Potzold said she and other opponents of the amendment at the meeting “left feeling as though we’d been kicked in the gut.”
“It seemed to us to be a very one-sided meeting in terms of response from the mayor and some of the council members,” she said.
“They generally seem to have been in favour of dogs on the promenade from the beginning.”
Fathers said the meeting at White Rock Community Centre drew some 80 members of the public.
“It was about three to one in favour, and that’s what we’ve received through email as well,” said Fathers, who made the original motion for the amendment last December.
Among points opponents made at the meeting, Potzold said, were that only seven per cent of White Rock residents have paid for a dog licence, and that the promenade is currently the only dog-free area of the city.
“One woman from East Beach who spoke is the parent of an autistic child who is (scared of dogs),” Potzold said. “Lots of people are scared of dogs, but nobody seems to think of that.”
She said that many who attended the meeting were not White Rock residents, but were from Surrey or other areas, and won’t be bearing the costs of administering the trial, including the city spending some $22,000 to provide dog-waste bags and dispensers along the promenade, and a further $10,000 on signage.
“We don’t understand why people who are not going to be paying have the same voice as people who will be,” Potzold said.
Fathers acknowledged that while both verbal and written feedback was recorded, she did not make a note at the meeting of the numbers of respondents on either side of the issue who were from White Rock.
The bylaw, which has already had first, second and third readings, is scheduled go to a final vote on Feb. 11 – and the ultimate fate of the proposal will be decided by the will of council, she said.
“That will be a full meeting of council,” she said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of questions, and hopefully, we’ll get a lot of answers from staff.”