Dollars the answer to off-leash dogs?
Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 06:00 am
Who knew there could be such a simple solution to the ongoing problem of off-leash dogs in wild spaces in Canmore?
All that’s needed, it now appears, is for taxpayers to shell out for a fencing project at the Quarry Lake dog park to the tune of $110,000 to make the problem go away.
Never mind dog owners taking responsibility for keeping their animals under control. Never mind that education in place of enforcement clearly hasn’t worked.
Anybody who has been in the Quarry Lake area at almost any time, including the off-leash area and the lake itself, has seen dog owners who completely ignore any regulations regarding their four-footed buddies.
In walking from the parking lot to Quarry Lake itself – for one of the many sports events that take place there, say – dog owners pass a couple of no dogs signs which they routinely ignore.
On pretty much any given race day – for a duathlon, triathlon, paddling event, etc. – dogs are always present, while those enforcing bylaws are not.
As Canmore Mayor John Borrowman pointed out (page 1), bylaw services has taken a different direction over the past several years away from strict enforcement and toward more educational interactions.
“Bylaw could issue a ticket, but they choose not to and are more educational,” he said.
On the other hand, as Alaric Fish, manager of planning and development pointed out, “Another option would be more enforcement up there.”
An option? More like the option. Much like people entering bear closure areas this past summer, a self-entitled attitude means they simply do as they please – with little consequence due to a lack of enforcement.
In the case of the truly dangerous ignoring of bear closures, it boggles the mind that so many people are seemingly willing to take their life in their own hands and enter an area with a bear reported in the area. As in ducking closure tape to recreate in an area where a bear may have been spotted just hours before.
Possibly the question is, are those responsible for bylaws an enforcement branch, or a public relations/goodwill service?
Plus, there’s the philosophy of complaint-driven bylaw services. Much like there are now ice-covered sidewalks in Canmore (because nobody has complained about them) that have not been cleared per bylaw stipulations, relying on complaints from those spotting off-leash dogs is unlikely to have much effect.
While off-leash dogs are annoying to many, taking the trouble to file a report with bylaw is not for everyone. So, people complain and curse under their breath as off-leash dogs run free under no restraint from their owners.
In future, while Mayor Borrowman has called for meetings with interested parties and stakeholders on the issue of ignoring bear closures, off-leash dogs and human activity in wildlife corridors, etc. we feel that without a significant enforcement component in any discussion/solution, there will be no long lasting change.
In the end, Canmore taxpayers should not be on the hook to pay for fencing as a way to ensure compliance with off-leash dog rules. At least through enforcement and fines, those who insist on ignoring the rules would pay the tab.