September 21, 2016 8:04 pm
Updated: September 21, 2016 9:05 pm

More Kelowna beaches where dogs can dip coming next summer

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City council says it was responding to public demand when it decided to create three new dog beaches in Kelowna.

The city says about 50 per cent of residents wanted more beaches where pooches are allowed to swim.

“We know a lot of people own dogs and if we want to see and encourage more people to live
downtown and in South Pandosy and in our town centres, we have to have those types of amenities that are going to attract people there,” said Mayor Colin Basran.

Right now, there is only one dog-friendly beach in Kelowna.

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“It’s hard,” said one dog owner walking in the downtown core. “You have to drive so far to take your dog somewhere. I have to drive all the way over to the Mission and it takes me half an hour.”

But by next summer, canines will be allowed to swim in Okanagan Lake at Poplar Point near Knox Mountain, at a downtown beach strip near the Sails, and at the Lake Avenue access beach. The latter is causing some concern because it’s in a residential area.

“It’s a well-used public area already,” said area resident Hayley Voucher. “I’ve never heard about somebody taking a public beach and turning it into a dog park.”

Gail Given was one of three city councilors to vote against the plan.

“This particular location is a little bit challenged for parking and I’m not comfortable that we’re able to keep dogs out of the adjacent homeowners yards; there’s no natural barrier between them.” said Given.

The plan is to fence off a portion of the beach just for dogs, but the fence can not extend into the water.

Residents have concerns about other things that fences can’t keep out, too, like noise and contaminants.

“Ringworm, giardia, salmonella – a variety of e-coli and we swim here,” said Voucher.

But city council is standing behind its 5-3 vote in favour of the dog beaches.

“That’s the hard part about being in council,” said Basran. “Decisions make people unhappy. We can’t please everybody, but I think we struck a healthy balance.”

City staff say the Lake Avenue access dog beach will be treated as a pilot project, monitored and revisited after two years time.

It is estimated the beaches will cost the city about $50,000 for fences and signage.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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