Possible media blitz coming to Tofino dog walkers

Pressure on Tofitian leaders to find a way to force dog walkers to pick up their pets’ feces is picking up.

Three separate letters concerning Tofino’s dog poop problem landed on council’s regular meeting agenda last week.

One of these letters was from David Williams who, as was reported in last week’s Westerly, asked the district to increase the visibility of bylaw enforcement.

Council moved to refer Williams’ letter to staff but Coun. Dorothy Baert wondered what that would accomplish.

“I don’t know quite what referring to staff means in this case, (or) what we’re expecting to come out of it,” she said.

“We spend effort and money looking at sustainability and criteria for quality of life, and so forth, and these kinds of letters are an indication that quality of life is being impacted by behaviours that are just not acceptable and that is dog owners allowing their dogs to pollute the beaches and walkways and parks without any remedy.”

Mayor Josie Osborne noted council has engaged in long discussions about dog poop recently and has already directed staff to compile a report on the issue.

“(Williams’) letter is appreciated, it expresses a sentiment that we know is important to community members, but it doesn’t add any new information,” she said.

“That’s why I think referring (it) to staff is appropriate because it reinforces what council and other letter writers have already said.”

Baert pushed further.

“With respect, that doesn’t answer my question about when we say refer to staff what that means about our expectation about what’s coming back to council,” she said.

Osborne reiterated that council had already directed staff to report on Tofino’s animal control bylaw and are awaiting that report.

Coun. Greg Blanchette suggested Tofino’s animal control bylaw “is flawed and does need to be rewritten,” but said council needs to go further.

“There’s no way this dog feces issue can be solved by bylaw enforcement alone and I would be inclined…to instruct staff to actually create a punchy media campaign based on civic pride,” he said.

“It doesn’t serve us as a council, or the district, well for us to keep discussing, every meeting, another round of letters to come up about the same problem…I can only see two things we can do: a little bit of targeted bylaw enforcement and a media campaign, because this is not our problem, it’s the town’s problem and there’s no other way, that I can think of, to solve it.”

Coun. Duncan McMaster agreed and said council should launch a media campaign targeting civic pride.

“We need to get some civic pride going in this town because it’s not just dog feces, there’s other problems that occur in the summer and throughout the year,” he said.

“It would be good to have something that would go out to all the resorts and all the residents as to what sort of behaviour is expected.”

Coun. Al Anderson suggested council must consider the cost of such a campaign before stampeding towards organizing one.

 â€œI’m all in favour of doing that but I think we have to figure out what that entails before we make a motion to start a campaign,” he said. “We’ve got to realize what kind of budget we want.”

Blanchette said if the district drags it feet too long, any campaign would be drowned out by summer.

“The time to act is now,” he said.

“If we put it off until summertime than any advertising campaign we put out will be lost in the flurry of summer activity. We either do it now or we don’t do it until fall.”

District CAO Bob MacPherson assured staff’s incoming report would include recommendations on ramping up awareness but declined to put a timeline on the report being ready.

 â€œThe preparation of a bylaw does take some time and we’re just not there,” he said.

“At this point, we can see if there are some outside resources that we could apply to this and make it happen sooner rather than later.”

andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca