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Kozak will bring dog issue up at Nelson council Monday

Nelson councillor Deb Kozak told the Nelson Star on Friday that she wants to see the dog bylaw lifted in the downtown this summer. - Bob Hall photo
Nelson councillor Deb Kozak told the Nelson Star on Friday that she wants to see the dog bylaw lifted in the downtown this summer.
— image credit: Bob Hall photo

Nelson’s controversial dog bylaw will come back to the council table Monday.

Councillor Deb Kozak says she’ll introduce a notice of a motion to have the bylaw that bans dogs on Baker Street lifted for a trial period from May 1 to October 31.

She says the front page article on the bylaw in last Friday’s National Post, and the local discussion it spurred, showed there is tremendous public interest in having the issue settled.

The Nelson Business Association asked council to review the dog bylaw last spring. The business group had conducted surveys and held a forum on the issue and found that the majority of downtown business owners believed the dog ban was hurting their business. At the time, the group asked that the bylaw be suspended for tourist season 2012, but they never heard back.

“The dog bylaw, in council’s view, wasn’t the most pressing issue in our stack of bylaws to resolve,” Kozak said. “We considered it maybe a medium priority, and we had high priority issues to get through first.”

There were rumours that a review of the dog bylaw was being slowed down because it had been lumped in with the other animal control issues like keeping backyard hens and bees. But Kozak said that’s not the case. The dog bylaw can be dealt with separate from those issues.

Kozak attended a Thursday morning meeting of the business association to tell them her intention to get council moving on the motion they requested last year.

“We’ll blow the dust off that report you brought us last year and see if we can get somewhere with it this time,” she told the association.

Kozak also plans to recommend strict enforcement and new fines for bylaw officers to dole out to dog owners caught walking their pet off leash or not picking up after it downtown.

She said city staff won’t be going around clearing doggie doo off the sidewalk — that responsibility will fall to the pet owners and business owners who are responsible for the sidewalks in front of the business.

The business association is recommending bag dispensers be installed throughout the core to make it easier for people to pick up after, if the trial period to permit dogs downtown goes ahead.

Association members told Kozak they were completely supportive of her bringing the issue back to council and that they would have members at the council meeting to show their support on the issue.

When a councillor introduces a notice of motion, it means city staff will draft a motion on the issue, which will be discussed at the next committee of the whole meeting (in this case, March 4), then forwarded to the next regular council meeting (March 18) where it will be voted on.

“Developing new policy isn’t a quick process,” Kozak said.

 

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