Ladysmith council wants to keep dogs on-leash on Holland Creek Trail

Councillors are concerned after hearing from a resident who has been bitten once and chased three times by off-leash dogs since Christmas.

Ladysmith council has announced its intention to make the Holland Creek Trail an on-leash area for dogs.

At a municipal services committee meeting held Jan. 20 at city hall, council received a letter of complaint from town resident Shawn O’Toole, who stated his concern regarding off-leash dogs along the trail.

O’Toole wrote in the letter, “since Christmas, I have been bitten once, and have been chased three times by off-leash dogs that clearly have not been under the owner’s control.”

Mayor Rob Hutchins now believes making the trail on-leash is something council and staff should get on with.

“I’ve heard enough,” said the mayor. “We’ve had too many concerns regarding off leash dogs along the Holland Creek Trail and I’m not sure why we need to debate or refer to this any further. We’ve been debating it for a year and a half and have also had issues about dog poo. My biggest fear is a child who is face level with a dog.”

Hutchins confirmed later in an e-mail that “the intention is that the resolution of the [municipal services] committee be referred to the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Commission for comment and feedback prior to it coming to the council table for final consideration.The commission may choose not to comment, or it may choose to recommend modification to the resolution, or alternatives regarding timing of implementation and/or sections of the trail to be considered for leash [or] not leash.”

Councillors were all on board, including Coun. Bill Drysdale, who chaired the meeting.

“Most of the dogs along the trail are under control, I’ve found,” said Drysdale. “Some are obedient, some are not, so it’s fairly good. But some owners let their dogs go way far away from them and that’s not under control. It’s more important to protect the youngsters than it is the dog.”

It is a rule currently that dogs being walked along the Holland Creek Trail must be under control, but not necessarily on a leash.

Coun. Duck Paterson agreed with Hutchins’s concerns.

“I hope we send a letter to Parks and Recreation with a recommendation [to make the Holland Creek Trail on-leash].”

Coun. Steve Arnett was dismayed by O’Toole’s letter.

“My view of aggressive dogs is that once they attack human beings, they should be put down right away.”

Paterson briefly attempted to play devil’s advocate.

“Lots of people do have multiple dogs and so they can’t keep them all under control.”

Arnett ended by asking city manager Ruth Malli if council is liable for someone being bitten by a dog along the trail, to which Malli responded, “I don’t think so.”