The Langley City Council reversed a decision made just two weeks ago that deemed Seawall Park an off-leash dog area.
All dogs must now be leashed at all times when outdoors within the city limits under a revised ordinance unanimously approved by the council Monday.
Doggie doodoo partly led to pooh-poohing the popular waterfront park as a place for pooches to roam free by the sea.
“It’s a kid’s place,” Councilman Bruce Allen said, “and who’s going to pick up the poop? Nobody. I think that’s a big issue.”
Langley Mayor Tim Callison put the issue back on the agenda under unfinished business, reconsideration of Ordinance 1053.
The law had previously stated that dogs “be under voice command of a competent person” and only specifically required a leash in the business district, at any public park and on the grounds of a school or church.
The city council revised the ordinance two weeks ago to mandate dogs be leashed in all areas of the city, with the exception of Seawall Park. After hearing from several dog owners requesting a leash-free zone, the waterfront park exemption was written into the revision.
Monday, Callison told council members he wanted to be sure they understood the consequences of their decision and that perhaps the vote for the Seawall Park exemption had been rushed. City staff studied the requirements needed for an official off-leash dog park after the council vote, Callison said
“(The decision) created a de facto dog park at Seawall Park,” Callison said. “Seawall Park does not come close to the standards needed.”
Allen and two other council members, Ursula Shoudy and Peter Morton, admitted they had second thoughts about allowing dogs to be off leash at the popular gathering spot.
“I think we jumped the gun,” Shoudy said. “I have big dogs. I know they can look scary. The park has to be safe for kids.”
Resident Pam Schell pointed out the dog decision seemed counter-intuitive to another decision of the council to add art installations along Seawall Park.
John deWit also questioned how free-roaming dogs fit into the city’s vision of Seawall Park as a tourist attraction.
“It’s your million-dollar place,” emphasized deWit, a citizen member of a park committee. “I counted easily 50 people there this weekend, one third of them children, diverse groups of people.”
Locals also swim off the beach, he said, and it’s a popular spot for picnics. Kids often run around in bare feet and people sit on the grass and eat because there’s not many picnic tables, he added.
“The stairs need work and greening needs to take place,” deWit said, “but dogs running around like a dog park, no, it doesn’t need that.”
Under the revised revised ordinance, canines and kids, visitors and locals, will continue to share the tides and territory of Seawall Park.