The prospect of making the Holland Creek Trail an on-leash area for dogs continues to cause a stir at the Ladysmith council table.
At the Feb. 3 council meeting, Coun. Bill Drysdale introduced a motion as chair of the Municipal Services Committee which would see the idea of making the Holland Creek Trail on-leash be referred to the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission.
The motion read: “That the correspondence received from Shawn O’Toole regarding the establishment of Holland Creek Trail as an area where dogs must be leashed be referred to parks, Recereation and Culture Commission and that the Commission be requested to consider the Committee’s recommendation that the Holland Creek Trail be deemed an on-leash area.”
O’Toole had written a letter of complaint to council claiming he was bitten by an out-of-control dog on the trail.
Opposition to the motion was instigated by Coun. Gord Horth who was notably absent at the respective Municipal Services Committee meeting where O’Toole’s letter came forward.
“I was very surprised at this motion,” said a disgruntled Horth. “It’s disrespectful to the vast majority of responsible dog owners. I’ve ran the trail with Shawn many times and we’ve never had a dog problem. We’re moving too quickly without proper consultation … This should be an enforcement issue. We’re jumping the gun and it’s unfair to 99.9 per cent of dog owners.”
Horth’s open dissatisfaction seemed to work, as the motion failed.
With Coun. Steve Arnett absent, Councillors Jillian Dashwood and Glenda Patterson supported Horth in opposition, leaving Mayor Rob Hutchins, Coun. Duck Paterson and Drysdale voting in favour.
A tied vote means a failed motion, and that didn’t sit too well with the mayor.
“Should we wait for another dog bite to look at a safety issue? I’m not comfortable with this. It’s irresponsible for us not to send this to Parks and Rec to say to them to have a look at it,” bemoaned Hutchins, who also suggested a yellow ribbon campaign which would see unfriendly dogs wear the ribbons to alarm trail users.
Dashwood was uncomfortable with the wording of the motion.
“To suggest to them (Parks and Rec) that we want on-leash as the outcome, I don’t agree with. I would like to see ‘deemed an on-leash area’ taken out then I’d be thrilled to see it go to Parks and Rec,” she said.
Horth duly backed Dashwood up.
“We’re acting as an executioner here. We’ve got one letter going in and we say ‘lets leash them.’ This is the wrong way to go about it,” said Horth.
Duck Paterson didn’t agree.
“I’m wondering if we’d be having this discussion if it was a three year-old that was injured. It’s already gone to Parks and Rec anyway,” he said.
Paterson is council’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission representative and what he was referring to was the fact that he’d already brought up the issue at a Parks and Rec meeting prior to the council meeting.
“If a person is injured, there is potential for action against the Town,” he said. “We did the right thing to ask the people to look at the trail.”
That didn’t sit too well with Horth either.
“There are many other solutions to this. Pushing in one direction is unfair to many dog owners. Bikes fly by and knock people over, but we’re not going to ban the bikes,” said Horth. “Perhaps we should talk to our animal enforcement officer. I don’t like the wording, and let’s wait for a recommendation to come forward from Parks and Rec.”