Dogs welcome on Penticton boardwalk year round
While smokers may find themselves persona non grata at Okanagan beaches this summer, dogs are going to be welcomed on the Okanagan Lake waterfront walkway.
Currently, Penticton city bylaws only allow dog owners to walk their dogs on the lakefront path between Labour Day and Victoria Day. But staff has suggested that with the new, wider walkway being installed as part of the waterfront rehabilitation project, there would be room for dogs year-round.
New signs will be installed to mark the change, including the provision requiring the dog be kept on a short leash to avoid mishaps with cyclists.
Coun. John Vassilaki, whose dog suffered a broken leg in a collision with a cyclist on the Skaha Lake walkway, thinks dogs should be kept off the walkway, regardless of its width.
“We’ve spent a considerable amount of money, we have dog parks, even on the beach we have a dog park,” said Vassilaki. “I don’t believe that dogs, bikes, people running, skateboarders and everything else that is going to be on that walkway mix very well.”
Vassilaki was a lone voice protesting the change. Using the KVR Trail as an example, Coun. Andrew Jakubeit pointed out that all sorts of users coexist. Banning dogs from the lakefront, he said, could be bad for tourism, especially in regard to tourists with dogs staying across the street in the Lakeshore Drive hotels.
“For us to have dog enforcement come there and try to give them a ticket, that just flies in the face of a tourism-friendly community,” said Jakubeit. “In this day and age, I think if the dog is on a leash and responsible owners are out walking their dog, it should be allowed.”
“I think dogs are the new kids these days. And there is going to be a lot of people coming to this town who aren’t bringing children and are bringing their dogs instead,” said Couns. Helena Konanz. “We need them to feel welcome and that new walkway, that’s why we spent that extra money to make it four metres wide.”
Konanz was more concerned that there isn't a proliferation of signs on the beach. Currently, there are 256 signs from the SS Sicamous to the Peach.
“There are way too many signs. I don’t want to replace a no dog sign with a dog on a short leash sign,” said Konanz. “Somehow, I hope we are going to organize this so we will have way less information for people to absorb.”
Council approved the staff recommendation to allow dogs on the boardwalk, as well as another recommendation to remove the 30-metre boat beach access on the east side of the Sicamous.
Boat beach access has been provided west of the SS Sicamous for many years, according to Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations. He said that during the public consultation phase of the waterfront rehabilitation project concern was expressed repeatedly about the unsafe condition created by the new boat beach access.
“There are many people that said they wanted access to the waterfront along there. Much to our chagrin, there was one incident that I think was a bit of a swerve in the wrong direction allowing some rentals out of there,” said Mayor Dan Ashton. “Now people can park on the west side of the Sicamous, where they have for a long time.”