Proposed dog sitting bylaws abandoned by Trust Committee

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, March 15 2016

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee (LTC) have voted to proceed no further with the proposed dog care bylaws.

Of primary concern to the Trustees are the lack of community consensus in either direction on the issue, and the fact there is no clear solution on how to deal with noise issues coming from a dog sitting operation.

Trustee Heather O’Sullivan said after several months and an extensive public consultation, there did not appear to be any straightforward solution to the concerns raised.

“Personally, I believe we have made a real effort to do this thoroughly and objectively. When you look at the totality of the information, I don’t think we have the mandate to make a change to our Land Use Bylaw.”

She added that she is aware there may be an economic impact of not changing the bylaw, as well as an impact on the people who are relying on the service.

“We can’t consider specific cases or operations, and...this is considering expanding the existing legal options for operating a dog sitting business.

“If the bylaw remains unchanged, dog sitting can remain being allowed on large rural-residential lots. There are other methods that can continue and will continue to be allowed.”

O’Sullivan said training, grooming and other pet care operations which are legal under the current home occupation bylaws will of course stay legal.

There is also, as she noted, no barrier to someone providing pet care in the home of the pet owners.

“I’m hoping there are still ways for community needs to be met.”

Trustee Melanie Mamoser said she agreed with the points made by O’Sullivan.

She explained that in other jurisdictions, in particular ones in the Lower Mainland, dog-sitting operations require properties larger than a hectare (2.4 acres).

Trustees were therefore uncomfortable with allowing dog sitting, even under the regulations proposed through the temporary-use-permit process, on half-acre lots on Gabriola.

LTC Chair Laura Bushekin said this wasn’t an issue about dog owners.

“I understand that for those who don’t have dogs, the noise a dog makes can be an irritant.

“It’s not about dog owners. A dog owner can be bothered by a neighbour’s dog’s barking, and a non-dog owner could run a dog-sitting operation.”

Trustees also said the issue had been clouded by the bylaw enforcement of one operator. 

Bushekin said, “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback, but a lot of support for that one operation. 

“That doesn’t give me the idea of general support for this all over the island. Trying to separate this from the one bylaw enforcement issue - that it really is about the larger issue.

“There’s been a lot of wonderful work so far - maybe in the future, if things change, it can be revisited. But at this time, I don’t think we have the tools to deal with the noise issue; I’d like to proceed no further with this project.”