August 9, 2018 4:00 pm
Updated: August 9, 2018 5:27 pm

Quebec mulls results of pilot project allowing dogs in provincial parks

WATCH: SEPAQ is wrapping a three-year long pilot project that permitted dogs in five of Quebec's 24 provincial parks. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports the organization is expected to make a decision ahead of next year's camping season.

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Outdoor enthusiasts who are dog owners may soon have more options to camp and hike with their furry friends.

SEPAQ, the government agency that manages the Quebec’s parks and wildlife reserves, is nearing the end of a pilot project that has allowed dogs in some provincial parks. Now it’s considering welcoming the four-legged companions for good.

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There are few that enjoy the great outdoors more than the family dog. That’s why Quebec is allowing dogs in specific locations in five of its 24 provincial parks. It’s part of a three-year pilot project, which comes to an end this year.

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SEPAQ will then decide if dogs will be allowed or banned in all Quebec provincial parks.

“It’s a very polarizing issue. Dog owners would like to go pretty much everywhere. Some other people would not like to see dogs at all. It’s a question of balance,” explained Simon Boivin, SEPAQ’s chief media officer.

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Boivin said the decision will be made largely based on the behaviour of dog owners — whether they clean up after their pets and whether they keep them attached to the maximum three-metre-long leash.

“You have to make sure your dog stays on the trails. That’s a rule that applies to humans, so it applies to dogs. In [provincial] parks, these are protected territories,” he said.

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Boivin said that so far, SEPAQ hasn’t had reports of any major incidents and it hasn’t seen any impact on visitation numbers since allowing dogs into some of the parks.

One mother who says she comes camping every year, says she would stop if dogs were banned again.

“She’s part of the family,” Melissa Lavergne said.

“I understand we’re not allowed to go everywhere, but if we have at least one or two trails we can keep going, and certain campsites, it means a lot to us.”

She said dogs bring a lot to the camping experience: “Kids, they really like it. They always ask to come and pet her and it makes people smile.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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