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Canine attack broached by qathet Regional District directors

"It sounds like a good idea to bang up some signs but there could be negative consequences.” ~ City of Powell River director George Doubt
CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED: qathet Regional District directors reviewed correspondence from horse rider Lesley Armstrong, who is advocating public education after she and a partner riding horses were attacked by dogs on a trail by West Lake.

qathet Regional District (qRD) has received correspondence from a concerned citizen following a three-dog attack near West Lake.

At the April 24 committee of the whole meeting, Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said the correspondence deals with several issues, including dangerous dogs. He said the Livestock Act states a person may kill a dog if the person finds the dog running at large or attacking and viciously pursuing livestock.

“I asked around my neck of the woods in Area B about this incident,” said Gisborne. “There have been several incidents, and as I was informed, the dogs connected to this incident have been destroyed. That leads me to the question and concern about public education.

“I’m wondering if there will be anything within our plans or in our budget to inform the public about proper trail use. I believe we have a regional trails master plan and I’m wondering how that plan directs such activity.”

Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick said the regional district has a monthly ad in local print media so that may be an appropriate venue.

Chief administrative office Al Radke said the regional district does not have any dog bylaws and the only trails that are maintained are the beach accesses, and some on Texada Island are being looked after by a volunteer group. He said in terms of trails such as those maintained by the BOMB Squad, the regional district would be overstepping its bounds.

City of Powell River director George Doubt said he wanted to inject a note of caution after having attended a meeting of the Municipal Insurance Association of British Columbia a couple of weeks ago and listening to discussions.

“Issues came up about liability for trails that had signs on them. There was quite a discussion at a couple of the forums about what is appropriate signage for trails, who maintains them and what responsibilities show up when you put up a sign.

“Before we start printing up signs to put everywhere, we have to be careful about understanding if we are taking liability for anyone who doesn’t see that sign or understand it, or goes down a trail that is not properly maintained. It sounds like a good idea to bang up some signs but there could be negative consequences.”

Radke said there was a case a few years ago in Revelstoke where they thought they had the appropriate signage at a lake and that city was found to be negligent when someone swam out to a float, dove off and injured themselves.

“Signs are not always the answer, so I concur with director Doubt,” said Radke.

Gisborne said the signage issue is not an easy one because the regional district does not own a lot of the trails being used. He said he would reach out to staff to see how the public can be informed about the rules of using trails.

In the correspondence, Lesley Armstrong said she and a friend were riding horses near West Lake earlier this year when the attack occurred. The event resulted in Armstrong and her friend landing on the ground as the horses sought to escape the dogs, which were off leash, she added.

Armstrong stated that the owner of the dogs ran away rather than assisting. She added that there needs to be a lot more signage and education on trail behaviours on the part of all users, both in the city and regional district.

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