City council is pausing its plan to curtail unleashed dogs from touring the trails around Shuswap Memorial Cemetery.
A letter from Gloria Makey and signed by 11 other residents was sent to council in response to an Observer online article about a Feb. 10 city decision on leashes. Council members at that meeting approved three readings to an amendment to add the cemetery and its trail network to the city’s list of on-leash parks.
Due to concerns about dogs roaming around during burial ceremonies, signs had been put up requiring leashes. However, they met with limited success, staff reported, so the option of a municipal ticket was requested for obstinate offenders.
At the Feb. 10 meeting, council obliged.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond had asked if public input was required for the amendment and staff said no. Coun. Debbie Cannon said she had noticed dogs running around when she was walking at the cemetery.
Mayor Alan Harrison, Couns. Kevin Flynn and Chad Eliason were absent at that meeting.
At council’s next meeting, Feb. 24, Harrison and Flynn had returned but Eliason was absent.
Council discussed the letter which expressed two points. The first was a wish for community input and a regret that those who walk their pets responsibly will be curtailed as the result of the behaviour of those who ignore the bylaws.
The second one expressed concerns that by continually limiting off-leash areas, the current ones will be overrun by dogs and become unsafe.
Coun. Kevin Flynn said he uses the trails adjacent to the cemetery a lot with his new “grand-dog” and he thinks the trail network is one of the best spots for off-leash exercise. However, he agrees with protecting the area close to the cemetery. He said he’d like to see the leash restriction limited to the cemetery area.
Coun. Sylvia Lindgren agreed that letting dogs run loose in the cemetery itself is “completely unacceptable by anyone’s standard and any reasonable person should know that,” but she also spoke against leash restrictions on the trails.
Coun. Debbie Cannon asked if staff would be able to redo the map.
Staff said anything is possible but the bylaw would have to, at minimum, go back to second reading.
Mayor Alan Harrison said he doesn’t own a dog but thinks the residents who sent the letter have a reasonable point. He said his solution would be to defer the motion and to have staff work with the letter writer and bring the issue back to council in four weeks. His plan was supported unanimously.