Dog decision expected from Nelson council

Nelson's dogs will finally have their day in Nelson on Monday when city council decides what to do with the canines in the downtown.
— image credit: Bob Hall photo

Nelson councillors will decide Monday whether to lift the downtown dog ban for a trial basis this spring.

The motion brought forward by councillor Deb Kozak at the request of the Nelson Business Association would see dogs allowed on Baker and Vernon Streets from May 1 to October 31. At the end of the trial period council would decide if the controversial ban on walking dogs downtown should be permanently lifted.

It was initially thought the motion would be discussed at a committee of the whole meeting next month, but the discussion was moved to an earlier special meeting to give councillors a chance to vote on the motion following the discussion and allow city staff time to draft changes to the animal control bylaw that would accompany the trial period.

Many stakeholders have been offered time to speak at the special meeting, including representatives from public works, police and bylaw departments, as well as members of the business association, Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, Kootenay Lake Tourism and the Seniors Coordinating Society. There will also be about 15 minutes time set aside for any members of the public with something to add.

“I think the issues people have — pro and con — are fairly simple. It’s the passion around them that takes time to discuss,” Kozak said.

Kozak said one of the key concerns will be ensuring dogs are on a leash and accompanied by their owner, not tethered to posts unsupervised, and that owners pick up after their pet.

“I expect our bylaw officer will give us the straight goods, in terms of the tools needed to ensure better animal control downtown,” she said. “I think we’ll also hear about the challenge with enforcing the existing bylaw, which we know isn’t really enforced at all.”

She said the business association has plans to assist with public education, and sidewalk cleanup, if the ban is lifted. There’s also talk of putting doggy bag dispensers in the core.

“It was the business association that asked council to put this ban in place nearly 20 years ago, and I think it says something that they’re the ones leading the charge to have it removed. It shows how times have changed,” Kozak said. “I think it’s worth trying [allowing dogs downtown] and see how it goes.”

The special council meeting to discuss and decide on temporarily lifting the downtown dog bylaw will be held Monday at 3:30 p.m. in council chambers.

The Star asked councillors where they stand on having dogs downtown. Read their answers on Page 6.


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