The change in Nelson’s dog bylaw has been a success, according to one of the people responsible for enforcing it.
“We have enjoyed it,” bylaw officer Fred Thomson told city council on Monday night. “Tourists and locals say they like it. They say they are glad Nelson changed the bylaw. We felt it was a success and we would like to see it continue.”
In February, council rescinded the longstanding bylaw that prohibited dogs in the downtown core, replacing it with one that levies fines on people whose dogs are unattended, not on leash, or not cleaned up after.
“We did not have to take the grief we have taken in past years,” Thomson said. “It is tough to tell someone their dog can’t be downtown. Even if you are as nice as you can possibly be, a dog is a family member.”
Thomson said from May to the present, bylaw officers have had 428 interactions with people regarding their dogs, compared with 546 in the same period last year. The interactions were about dogs tied up, not on a leash, or left in a car, as well as general discussions of the change in the bylaw. Five tickets were issued for dogs off leash or being tied up.
Thomson said some things he worried about didn’t come to pass.
“There are no bags all over the street, no feces on the street. We think that is even down from before. We believe having the bag dispensers helps. We could always use more dispensers.”
He said the main problem now is people tying up their dogs.
“If it’s in an outdoor restaurant, we have to interrupt them in the middle of lunch, but they are mostly pretty good,” Thomson said. He suggested restaurants and outdoor cafes should post signs asking people not to tie up their dogs.
Thomson said it has always been assumed the dog ban originated with transients and their dogs, “but those people only here temporarily have been as respectful as everybody else.”
Thomson said his department has dog leashes to give tourists who need them and gave out 25 this summer. “We hand out lots of leashes,” he said. “It’s magic.”
Mayor Deb Kozak said she has received only one or two negative comments about the bylaw change. “I would like to thank the bylaw officers for their leadership in this area,” she said.
“Council reformed the bylaw on their recommendation. And I commend the store owners too. It has worked out really well.”