Compromise dog off-leash plan halves Downie Marsh area
When the City of Revelstoke proposed redrawing the off-leash dog areas in Revelstoke in April, the bylaw came with a big bark. The city proposed eliminating the popular dog walking area below the Revelstoke Workers’ Memorial next to Centennial Park.
Now, after public consultation, that proposed restriction has lost its bite.
On June 26 city council will consider a revised, “compromise” bylaw, said city planning director John Guenther.
Much of the proposed closure in the Downie Marsh area has been clawed back and will remain an off-leash area. The core ‘marshy’ area – where the big ponds are next to Downie Timber – will now be off-limits for off-leash dogs, which is the only major change. However, there remains a significant band of off-leash area on the shore of the Columbia River all the way from Centennial Park to the new Mark Kingsbury pedestrian bridge.
The Times Review attended a public consultation meeting on the proposed changes in May. The majority of attendees were dog owners; their comments overwhelmingly focused on the Downie Marsh area – hoping to keep it off-leash.
“The main approach here is to try to minimize the impact on habitat as best we can within the Downie Marsh area, and I think most people should understand that,” Guenther told the Times Review. He said there were a range of opinions gathered as part of consultation.
“There were middle of the road [people], there were environmentally inclined people that had dogs that thought it was still good to have an off-leash area around the marsh,” he said. “They didn’t see the real point of protecting the bird habitat because they didn’t see the high environmental value there that other people saw.”
The six other off-leash areas in Revelstoke either remain about the same or are expanded. The main expansions are on the Columbia Flats south of Illecillewaet River towards the Revelstoke Airport, and a large expansion in the Big Eddy to include the area from the dike to the Columbia River shore. There were also several other housekeeping tweaks and expansions to smaller off-leash areas in May. Those tweaks made straightforward sense; the off leash area in the Industrial Park was mis-mapped. The off-leash area on Westside Road has been shifted from right on the road down to the shoreline.
After June 26 council consideration, Guenther said the next step will be updating non-existent and unclear signage, as well as a fresh wave of animal control bylaw enforcement. Walking dogs off-leash on the ‘Blackbelt’ paved walkway from Centennial Park to Kovach Park has never been allowed, nor was a change contemplated this time. Guenther said animal control was out warning dog owners last week. Fines could follow.