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West Vancouver tightens leash on Seawalk dog walkers

Owners will also be restricted to walking two dogs at a time on popular paths
Sandra McLean and her dog Weston enjoy the Centennial Seawalk. West Vancouver council has allowed dogs on the Seawalk, but a recent change will require them to be on a short leash. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

Dog owners are being put back on a short leash on popular West Vancouver walking paths.

Following a decision in November when council voted to loosen the leash on longstanding restrictions that have kept canine companions from walking with their owners on the West Vancouver Seawalk, council voted Monday (Feb. 12) to add some restrictions to keep dogs under better control.

Among them, dogs must now be kept on a leashes no more than two metres in length when being walked on the Seawalk and on Birdsong Trail in Lighthouse Park.

Owners are also restricted to walking two dogs at a time on those trails – down from three previously allowed.

The move to rein in dog walkers by banning retractable leashes in those areas follows complaints received by the district’s bylaws department about dogs being “far away from their owners and not being under control,” according to the district.

Both the path in Lighthouse Park and the Seawalk are narrow and are used by people with mobility challenges, the district added.

Coun. Christine Cassidy – who along with Coun. Linda Watt shepherded the loosening of dog restrictions in the municipality this fall – said refinements to the animal control bylaws were to be expected after the changes.

Since the changes went into effect, West Vancouver council has received letters and comments both from people thanking them for making the changes welcoming their dogs and from those who say their walks have been ruined by inconsiderate dog owners.

One letter writer wrote to council recently recounting several incidents of dogs approaching “in a threatening manner,” including one incident involving an “aggressive large dog” that jumped on his wife.

“Since that day we have not used this walk as we feel unsafe due to owners not controlling their dogs,” the resident wrote.

The district has also received complaints about owners not picking up poop after their dog.

But another wrote thanking council, saying, “It has been absolutely amazing to be able to enjoy one of the most extraordinary features of West Vancouver while walking our dog.”

After years of restrictive policies about where dogs could be walked in West Vancouver, changes mean leashed and licensed dogs can now be walked along pedestrian areas of the Seawalk, along paved footpaths in Horseshoe Bay, Ambleside and Dundarave parks and around the perimeter of sports fields, playgrounds and recreational beaches – although not actually on them.

In bringing the change forward last year, Cassidy and Watt said restrictions on where pooches can promenade in West Vancouver were outdated and out of line with what’s allowed in most other communities.

A number of dog owners showed up to council to support the move to a more Fido-friendly Seawalk. A similar number of residents showed up to oppose the change.