Fido has found a friend in Kelowna city council.
After months of talk, council has approved a staff recommendation that a budget proposal be brought in December, when councillors review the 2017 budget, to add three new dog beaches in the city, one of those on a two-year trial basis. A fourth dog beach will be looked at for further review and a fifth was rejected.
The two new beaches would be at the Popular Point beach access in the North End and at the “mini” beach beside the Sails sculpture downtown at the foot of Bernard Avenue. The additions would join the one existing dog beach, located in the Mission at what was once the city’s nude beach.
The recommendation for a two-year trial would be at the Lake Avenue beach access, just to the south of the Willian Bennett Bridge downtown.
While a possible off-leash dog park or off-leash dog trail at Munson Pond was not recommended because of the potential impact on wildlife in the area, a fourth dog beach will be studied more at Cedar Park in South Pandosy. The city wants to figure out how it would be integrated into future plans for the park.
Coun. Charlie Hodge said he was delighted to support the motions that could lead to creation of the new dog beaches.
While admitting the news won’t make everyone in the city happy, he said the need for more dog beaches in the city was long overdue.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for seven years,” said Hodge.
But, as is the case whenever the issue of dogs comes up, council’s move will be controversial.
Residents in the area of the proposed Lake Avenue beach access made their feelings clear during public consultations, saying were concerned about noise and dogs getting into their years. And most who filled out a survey distributed by the city said they were opposed to having a dog beach there.
In response, council amended the motion for the Lake Avenue beach access to include fencing around the area of the beach where dogs would be allowed. The original recommendation from staff did not include fencing because of the need to keep the area open for mechanical cleaning of the beach.
Coun, MaxineDeHart said a woman who used to live near a dog beach but no longer does, told her not only noise can be an issue with dogs using the nearby beach, they also urinate in the water and not all owners pick up after their pets when they defecate.
Despite the concerns, however, council said it plans to look at the budget proposal in December, a move that if approved, would quadruple the number of dog beaches in the city.