Downtown dogs and public smoking were once again brought up in council.
The current animal control bylaw has been a contentious issue for the city, as it bans dogs from downtown.
However, the bylaw hasn’t been easy for the city to enforce, with a limited budget for bylaw enforcement.
Coun. Kathy Moore suggested council suspend the current bylaw for one year.
“Put up dog (bag) dispensers and look into dog hitching areas for one year, and then see if it creates all the problems that people think will arise form this, or if it really isn’t that big of a deal,” Moore said. “I’ve been in so many communities where dogs are allowed and it just doesn’t seem to be the same angst as it is here.”
After one year they could decide whether to repeal it completely or keep it.
She also suggested that during that time council direct the bylaw officer to put more enforcement of the leash law.
Coun. Jill Spearn took the devil’s advocate side, as she called it, and precluded by saying that she is a dog owner and likes dogs.
“We have trails galore, both in the City of Rossland and around us. There’s a block and a half of our city where we say let’s have it dog free,” she said, adding that she wouldn’t mind if they had a leash law, but didn’t want to see people tying their dogs up downtown.
However, she continued by saying that she thought it’s okay to not have dogs downtown.
“This is why this law came in historically to our town,” she said, noting many people’s fear of dogs. She settled on one year leash law, but no tying up dogs.
Coun. Kathy Wallace said she was in support of looking at revising the bylaw, since it is currently not working.
“Since council started this discussion about whether to review the bylaw or not, what I see downtown is people in direct non-compliance to the bylaw that still does exist,” Wallace said, noting that dogs tied to the newly planted trees downtown, as well as in front of Ferraro Foods, are a big problem.
“It’s inconsiderate leaving your dog in the entrance of such a busy storefront,” she said.
Wallace also wondered if they set up hitching posts for dogs, would the city be liable if they fought.
She suggested that it was worthy of setting up a task force, as she wasn’t comfortable with the motion on the table.
Coun. Jody Blomme liked the idea of allowing leashed dogs downtown.
Coun. Tim Thatcher was open to a one-year trial, but was against allowing dogs to be tied.
He said he would like to know what business owners think.
Mayor Greg Granstrom however was opposed to the idea.
“I’ve lived here a long time and I’ve had a dog every minute of the time I’ve lived here, and never once have I had the need to take my dog uptown shopping with me,” the mayor said. “I walk my dog three times a day, not one of those is downtown. Why we cannot have a section of town that says please don’t bring your dog in, I don’t understand why we can’t have that.”
He said the bylaw is already being taken advantage of and the enforcement is lacking. So a leash bylaw would have a similar problem.
He said that since the bylaw has come up for discussion, there’s been more dogs downtown then he’s ever seen.
“By changing this bylaw without enforcement, we aren’t going to change anything,” Granstrom said.
The motion ended in defeat, and the discussion was differed to a Committee of the Whole meeting. The meeting will likely not take place until the end of February.
Next up, was discussion on a smoking regulation bylaw.
On this, Moore asked that they defer this discussion as well, so they could invite Trish Hill from Interior Health to do a presentation.
“I think that it would be good for us all to look at these things before making a decision on this bylaw,” Moore said.
Wallace noted that both the smoking and the dog discussions brought up the question of bylaw enforcement in the community.
She asked for a staff report on what it thought of bylaw enforcement in the community.
“We do have budget discussions coming up, it would be nice to have that information prior to budget discussions,” she said.
Coun. Cary Fisher didn’t support the motion.
“I look at both these issues, and to me, they aren’t really big issues at all. I don’t see a problem with the dogs leashed or unleashed, we’re not enforcing it. I don’t think we’ve had any real issues around the smokers. I honestly in two years haven’t even smelled smoke downtown,” he said. “If you really look at it, what are we talking about? Why are we wasting time and money looking at something like that? Really search your soul and think. Have you had a problem with a dog on or off a leash? Have you had a problem with a smoker on a leash or off a leash?”
The motion was carried. All but Fisher were for it.