The City of Castlegar has heard the public’s concerns regarding off-leash dogs and is responding accordingly.
“The city intends to increase its efforts to minimize dog conflicts in all city parks,” a news release issued last week read.
“Dogs are currently required to be leashed and the city will increase its bylaw enforcement of these regulations and, in certain cases, the city will be levying fines to enforce compliance for the safety of all park users.”
The fines range from a minimum of $50 to a maximum of $2,000.
Councillor Dan Rye, who chairs the public safety committee, explained the bylaw has always been there, but with the new addition of the swimming ponds at Millennium Park, it’s time to reiterate the message.
“We had a few issues last year after we opened the ponds. We feel that going into this year we want to set the tone early,” Rye said.
“It’s not like we’re coming down heavy handed, but because we’ve had quite a few complaints about dogs running free when they’re supposed to be on leashes. We just feel that we need to have stronger enforcement.”
The city said it will increase the presence of staff in parks to ensure compliance with the bylaw.
“Not everybody enjoys it when dogs run up to them,” Rye said, adding that it’s not only Millennium Park they’re concerned with, but everywhere dogs may venture.
“We’re reacting to complaints and are trying to follow-up on them,” he said. “The vast majority of dog owners are very responsible, however it is important that the city takes steps to enforce its existing bylaws to ensure all visitors to parks have a positive and enjoyable experience”
In regards to the off-leash dog park slated for construction in Millennium Park, Mayor Lawrence Chernoff said the city recognizes that it’s “important for dog owners to have a dedicated area where their dogs can be off-leash and our goal is to be at that phase in the park’s development as soon as possible.”