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The Week — June 21: City of Victoria asks for owner obedience

City tells dog owners to leash up, Our Place hosts barbecue for homeless and
Re-enforcement of leash laws in Beacon Hill Park and on Dallas Road could be a costly reminder to owners.

City asks for owner obedience

Dog owners beware: Mr. Poodles can’t roam as he wishes around all of Beacon Hill Park and the Dallas Road pathway anymore — well, he never could, but it appears you weren’t listening, at least until now.

In an effort to “balance the needs of all users of the pathway and park,” the City of Victoria is initiating an additional Animal Control Bylaw presence during summer evenings and weekends in the Beacon Hill and Dallas Road area to educate dog owners, ensure they have close supervision of their dogs and that they carry a leash at all times.

Parks manager David Speed says no rules will be changing at this time, but after a number of complaints surrounding the multi-use areas, the city’s efforts will focus on awareness of the rules that already exist. Within Beacon Hill Park, for example, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and are not allowed in the Heronry at Good Acre Lake, at the Children’s Petting Zoo or at playgrounds in the park. Signs are posted reminding users of these rules, and ignoring them comes with a hefty swat: dog owners can face fines ranging from $100 to $300.

“Off-leash regulations are in place to prevent dogs from running uncontrolled along the pathway, bumping into people causing injury; and to protect wildlife in the park from being chased, such as peacocks, squirrels and deer that make Beacon Hill Park their home,” according to the city.

Increased patrols will continue until the end of September, when the area is most popular. All dogs are required to be licensed, of course, and, with the exception of designated off-leash areas and private property, all dogs must be leashed at all times in the city.

A banquet of risk management

What could taste better this June-uary than a barbecue with a side of big business? Perhaps serving it to 750 people living in poverty on a memorable day.

This Thursday, June 21, Our Place Society is partnering with global insurance brokerage Aon to provide an outdoor barbecue serving up hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, ice cream and refreshments for almost 1,000 people without homes. Thursday also marks National Aboriginal Day, and Our Place will celebrate with drumming events and live entertainment. If that wasn’t enough, those poking around early will be treated to a 7 a.m. special breakfast of pancakes and sausages at Our Place, compliments of the United Way.

“We’re thrilled that Aon has decided to use our facility to give back to the community by engaging with people who are homeless or living in poverty,” says Don Evans, executive director of Our Place. “When an organization comes to Our Place to give back, the whole community benefits.”

Why the big-business match-up? Aon, which specializes in risk management, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and was looking to create a global day of community service. On June 21, Aon colleagues around the world will contribute 25,000 volunteer hours to local charities. Our Place is also receiving new shelving units built by Aon staff.

“We wanted to do something hands-on, providing food for people who really need it,” says Kris Charmley, Aon’s Victoria branch manager. “Our Place Society has a stellar reputation for supporting Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens, so there was no question that we would direct our efforts to this very worthy organization.”

Now, if we could convince summer to get on board.

Dinner discourse at city hall

Speaking of barbecues, if you weren’t around Victoria City Hall last Thursday, June 14, you might have missed the 150 people gathered in front to protest the social profiling and discrimination that the Vancouver Island Public Interest Resource Group says has defined most interactions between Victoria Police and the capital’s homeless community.

Inside city hall, an impressive list of speakers advocated for reforms including the creation of a municipal anti-discrimination policy and the elimination of the chattel bylaw and sections of the streets and traffic bylaw that greatly impact marginalized people. Ideally, council would have heard from those members of Victoria’s street community, but many of those voices went unheard at the end of the night.

“The challenge,” according to VIPIRG’s Gordon O’Connor, “is to get the street community in to speak to council in the first place.”

While VIPIRG collected a number of forms from members of the crowd who wanted to address council, the city requires residents to submit their requests the morning before the meeting. City councillor Lisa Helps put forward a motion to allow late submissions, but it was defeated 5-4, with councillors Marianne Alto, Chris Coleman, Ben Isitt and Helps voting in favour and the rest against.

Looks like council’s preference for efficient meetings over meaningful discourse is painfully apparent. M

Simon Nattrass