Local residents are voicing their concerns over free-roaming dogs on Eaglecrest beach.
Residents and municipal officials alike agree there are jurisdictional grey areas.
“The dog did his business on my grandson’s bucket and spoon,” said resident Robin Mullett. He said a dog was off of its leash recently at Eaglecrest beach and refused to listen to its owner.
“It’s unfortunate that those people spoil it for everyone else,” said Jennifer Mullet, Robin’s wife. “Children are like magnets for dogs.”
The area is considered a “Wildlife Management Area.” Luke Sales, director of planning for Qualicum Beach, said municipal dog control bylaws do not apply to Eaglecrest beach.
Sales said there are regulations in place from the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources that permit dogs on the beach if they are kept on a leash.
“It can be frustrating for the towns,” Sales said.
The beaches in and around Parksville and Qualicum Beach have been a Wildlife Management Area since 1993.
Debbie Comis, Parksville’s director of administration and bylaw services, said a dog control bylaw in Parksville has “been in place for decades.”
Robin Mullet said he spoke with someone at the provincial ministry a few years ago when he first discovered the issue and is glad to see there is a WMA regulation in place. However, there is only one sign that showed a dog attached to a leash near the area.
In the past few days, he said he saw 17 dogs running free of their owners.
“I don’t want to gripe, I just think people don’t know,” Mullett said.
Mullett suggested more signage to let people know that the beach is not an off-leash area.