Off-Leash Dogs - Pilot Project

Fall 2021 Off-Leash Dog Pilot Project Engagement

The District of Squamish conducted a survey to collect public feedback on an updated list of proposed pilot locations in Squamish for off-leash dogs and a set of conditions owners must meet to use those locations.

The survey was open from September 24 - October 12, 2021

Next Steps: Feedback collected in the survey will be used to help inform a staff recommendation to Council in November about whether some or all of the proposed locations should move forward.

Two categories of locations are being proposed:

  • Off-leash areas will incorporate the natural habitat and have open areas suitable for ball throwing and socializing.
  • Off-leash trails will allow dogs to run and get exercise over a greater distance with their owners.

View a map of the proposed off-leash dog areas and trails

View individual maps via the area descriptions below.

Proposed Off-Leash Areas

John Hunter Park, Valleycliffe (click for map): This location would provide off-leash use in Valleycliffe and would be fully fenced.

Brennan Park Fenced Dog Run, Garibaldi Estates (click for map): The Dog Run would be a new addition to the Brennan Park Recreation Centre lands, would be fully fenced, and located along the eastern edge of the gravel field (between the gravel field and the BMX track) 

 

Proposed Off-Leash Trails

Squamish River Dike, behind the Public Works Yard, Garibaldi Estates West (click for map): This dike runs from the Mamquam River bridge at Government Road, north behind the Public Works Yard. 

Stawamus River Dike, Valleycliffe (click for map): This dike trail runs from John Hunter Park with entrances from Valley Drive, Spruce Drive and Cedar Drive road ends. Dogs are to be leashed in spawning channel areas.

Merrill Park, Garibaldi Highlands (click for map): This is a forested park in the Garibaldi Highlands neighbourhood and contains trails that would allow off-leash dogs. 

Powerline Service Road, Brackendale (click for map): This is an existing gravel trail in Brackendale that runs from Depot Road to Squamish Valley Road under the BC Hydro right-of-way. The off-leash trail would not extend to the forested trails on either side of the powerlines right-of-way.

Brennan Park Nature Trail (click for map): This trail currently exists and would allow off-leash dogs from the parking lot at the north end of Brennan Park Recreation Centre to the south end of the park at Finch Drive. 

 

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.

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

The District has reviewed 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 off-leash sites across the community.

The District will do a full review of the Animal Control Bylaw in 2022 as part of the ongoing work on the off-leash dogs process.  

 

Previous Engagement Timeline

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.

September 2021: Survey launches for public feedback.

 

 

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Comments

  • Rhonda O’Grady Oct 14, 2021, 3:28 PM (3 days ago)

    I’m very disappointed with the municipality’s suggestion that riparian areas along salmon spawning rivers would be a good idea to allow off leash dog parks. I’m actually flabbergasted that this was even considered. Any of the proposed off leash dog park areas that are in proximity to sensitive salmon spawning waterways such as the Stawamus River should not be recommended and shows a great disconnect between the municipality and its communities (human and more than human). Many organizations concerned with our rivers and salmon have been trying for years to encourage people to keep their dogs on leashes around our salmon spawning rivers during all times of the year. For example the, “Think Pink” campaign and the diligent, constant work by the Streamkeepers. Designating these areas near rivers as off leash parks undermines all the past work we have done to educate people about respecting our wildlife and their habitat. These riparian corridors are one of the last safe havens/habitat for wildlife. To suggest off leash parks in these areas will be detrimental to not only the salmon, their eggs and young, but also our bears, coyotes, amphibians, migratory birds, deer and so on. Please reconsider off leash dog parks in sensitive habitat and wildlife corridors. Thank you for your time.

  • Michael Coyle Oct 5, 2021, 5:38 PM (12 days ago)

    Regarding off leash area #9 Stawamus River Dyke

    I agree this section makes sense as an off leash area. I walk my dog there very often and the people waking dogs are by and large quite careful about them. It would help to have one or two more garbage cans for dog waste.

    I am concerned about the area near the beaver pond and the spawning channels. I feel like that entire area should be excluded from the off leash area and given a wide (100m) buffer.

    • Rhonda Oct 14, 2021, 3:24 PM (3 days ago)

      I too can’t believe that the municipality would suggest sensitive riparian corridors, one of the last places where wildlife can find refuge, as off leash dog areas, especially near Salmon Spawning and rearing rivers and wetlands. Many organizations concerned with the rivers and salmon have spent hours and hours trying to keep people’s dogs ON leash and out of the rivers and wetlands. I’m absolutely stunned with this suggestion. Really shows the disconnect the municipality has with the communities and our natural world. Oh brother…

  • Erin Schaber Oct 2, 2021, 11:24 AM (16 days ago)

    Could the fisherman’s park area be considered as well.

  • David J Lassmann Sep 27, 2021, 11:41 AM (21 days ago)

    The area selected for Brackendale is not of interest for dog owners. The more suitable and popular area would be Fisherman's Park.

    • Holly Oct 7, 2021, 2:01 PM (10 days ago)

      I completely agree and would like to see fisherman’s on the list. This area is my favourite for dog walks. And for dogs to swim.

  • Gord Lyster Sep 27, 2021, 9:03 AM (21 days ago)

    I think, personally, too much time and energy is being spent on something that is doomed for failure from the get go. With so much space and so many options to run your dog off leash, how many outdoor loving dog owners are going to restrict themselves to a handful of designated arenas? And, how much time, energy and cost will it take to enforce these regulations? Yes, some dogs sometimes need to be leashed and in some areas sometimes all dogs should be leased. To address these “sometimes”, education is the answer, or as the survey calls it, “dog owner responsibility”. Education in the form of constant and seasonal notices on when, where and why leashing is needed. Helping with education could include regular input from the Squamish River Watershed Society, the Squamish Trails Society and SORCA to name a few. Spend your time and energy on “dog owner responsibility” because what’s a better use of resources? Constant spaced educational reminders on the when, where and why or pay to police the multitude of dog owners taking advantage of the uncountable places to walk their dogs. To me, education has the better chance of desired outcome while dog parks only is doomed for failure.

  • Maureen Mackell Sep 25, 2021, 9:25 AM (23 days ago)

    To add to my earlier comment - education and cooperation should be the focus of this challenging issue not a restrictive plan that creates conflict and cannot be managed. The aim should be civility, helping people understand what is acceptable behaviour and what is not acceptable for a dog owner.

  • Maureen Mackell Sep 25, 2021, 8:47 AM (23 days ago)

    I suggest this plan will not meet the needs of people and dogs in this community. The plan seems near sighted and unrealistic which will likely invite an attitude of people not paying it any mind which then creates a need for increased enforcement and /or divisiveness among citizens. It seems also to disregard very important areas people and dogs are currently accessing. Thank you.

  • Pat cunliffe Sep 10, 2021, 7:51 AM (38 days ago)

    Garibaldi springs golf course. At least some of the old course should be officially made an off leash dog sanctuary.
    Unofficially it already is.

  • Linda Bird Sep 2, 2021, 10:32 AM (46 days ago)

    I completely disagree to using Hendrickson fields in the off baseball season for a dog park. The grass would be ruined. We already have a hard time getting proper maintenance on the fields. This would be a disaster for Squamish Slo-Pitch community.

  • Rachel Aug 17, 2021, 7:49 PM (2 months ago)

    Would be nice if each sub community had an area for off leash so people don’t have to go far from their homes every day to walk their dog. Shared sections of trails would be great as well, ambleside is a great example of this.

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