Dog Off-Leash Areas Pilot Project

Background

With a growing population of dogs and dog owners in the community, the District identified the need to address off-leash dogs, dog owner responsibility, and to update the Animal Control Bylaw. Keeping dogs and the community safe is an important issue for the District. Impacts from off-leash dogs can range from little to very high consequences for people and the environment. In addition, the District is responsible for ensuring its bylaws remain up to date with changing times, complied with, and enforceable.

The District is currently developing a revised list of proposed dog off-leash locations. This revised list will be informed by the feedback received to date. The revised list of dog off-leash locations will be available later this summer and the District will seek feedback from the community on the proposed locations.

What Has Happened So Far

The District began a public engagement process in 2019 to gather input from both dog-owners and non-dog owners in relation to dog off-leash areas and owner responsibility conditions.

April-May 2019: Online survey to gather community input into dog off-leash areas and owner responsibility conditions.

September 2019: Open house held to review the suggested locations and times, owner responsibility conditions, and updates to the bylaw. (View the poster boards)

October 2019: Online comment period open for those who could not attend the open house.

View the survey, open house and online feedback summary report

February 2020: The District of Squamish podcast, District B-Sides, aired a podcast discussing off leash dogs in Squamish. Listen to the podcast here.

March 2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, Bylaw Enforcement staff turned their focus to emerging priorities. The project was placed on hold until 2021.

May 2021: District staff began reviewing past public feedback, as well as internal engagement with staff (Parks, Planning, Wildlife, Environment, and Bylaw Enforcement) and agency stakeholders (RCMP and BC Conservation Office) on the proposed dog off-leash locations and the draft Animal Control Bylaw.

Next Steps

Since 2019, staff have narrowed down the original proposed options based on wildlife interface and access issues and are currently researching additional new sites to propose to the community for public feedback.

The District is reviewing all feedback to date regarding dog off-leash areas and considering factors such as:

  • The community’s growth;
  • Increase in number of dogs in the community;
  • Wildlife encounters; the need for conserving sensitive environments;
  • Land access to inform the recommendation of updated appropriate dog off-leash sites across the community.

Owner Responsibility Conditions are being considered such as:

  • Dogs being licensed and displaying a tag;
  • Owners having care and control of their dog;
  • Picking up the dog’s waste and disposing it in a bin;
  • Dogs prevented from harassing wildlife;
  • Using District signage to close areas or change off-leash requirements due to wildlife concerns, either seasonally or when issues arise.

Bylaw Update: Following the public engagement, updates to the Animal Control Bylaw (2124, July 2014) will be proposed to reflect the input received. The draft updated bylaw will be presented along with the engagement results to Council in September.

 

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Comments

  • jim gracie Jul 2, 2021, 8:51 AM (31 days ago)

    Mamquam river dike and golf course dike trails are suitable for off leash dogs.. However, the Dipper trail between the dikes runs close alongside the spawning channels / This are is a designated Sensitive Habitat Area for the year round protection of juvenile fish and not only the spawners.. The Dipper trail is easily accessible from the dike trails and needs to have warning signs placed at the entrances.. The signs should read " Sensitive Habitat Area for year round protection of juvenile salmon. Dogs must be on leash and must keep out of the spawning channels ."

  • Anne Mar 5, 2021, 6:06 PM (5 months ago)

    Great! Would be nice to have a few more options for those of visiting Squamish for the day, between 11 and 4.... We like to come go out for lunch, shop in town... and take our doggies for a walk off leash! Not bad to have our money coming in....
    :)
    Anne from Bowen Island

  • Glenn Stainton Mar 5, 2021, 8:57 AM (5 months ago)

    I agree with the comments here that off leash hours are too restrictive. Many owners use their lunch hours to walk and exercise their dogs and this needs to be accommodated. I believe council is listening to the vocal few complainers in the community regrading dogs being off leash. I have been in Squamish 30+ years now the vast majority of us are walking our dogs off leash without issues. If you want compliance you need greater opening hours including in the mid day

  • Garrett Mar 4, 2021, 7:11 PM (5 months ago)

    Looking forward to some official off-leash dog areas, without any time restrictions. And preferably without the District spending any money. I don't think it needs to be this complicated. Just designate some areas and call it good. No need to discuss any further, no need to wait any longer, and no need to build any infrastructure.

  • Sarah Chambers Mar 4, 2021, 2:18 PM (5 months ago)

    I'd like to add my support to the project. We desperately need more off-leash areas for the many energetic dogs of Squamish to play, exercise and socialize. I would also support increasing the hours these areas are available for off-leash use.

  • Anne-Marie Mar 1, 2021, 12:01 PM (5 months ago)

    Any news on this pilot project ?! It's been 2 years and still nothing. There are tons of dogs in town and still no options at all for off-leash area for dog owners. Meanwhile, bylaw is fining owners that let their dogs off-leash even in historically dog friendly spots. We need options !

    • Communications Mar 1, 2021, 2:58 PM (5 months ago)

      Hi Anne-Marie. This project is still moving forward and will be going back to Council this Spring.

  • Tricia Boer Mar 1, 2021, 11:47 AM (5 months ago)

    We need this so badly! With all the over-development of Squamish now, with even more people and their dogs moving to Squamish - we need designated place(s) for dogs to be able to be off leash. It is not right that people with good recall of their well behaved dogs be punished with steep fines because their dogs are innocently playing in a park (which is extremely important for the mental health and physical well-being of a dog. Please, please - take a break with developing Squamish into a little squished city with no trees left and build us (the people who actually live here) some dog parks.

  • Jim Hill Jul 9, 2020, 7:20 AM (13 months ago)

    We are very excited for the implementation of the off-leash dog areas and hope council approves soon!

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