Dogs or No Dogs?
The issue of whether or not dogs should be allowed downtown seems to have caught the attention of many people in town. Originally brought up at council by Councillor Steve Knox as a recommendation to rescind the current bylaw banning dogs from the downtown area, The Chamber of Commerce is currently pushing the issue.
Businesses in the no-dog area have been voicing their concerns on the dog ban as being bad for business and keeping potential customers away.
“We have received a number of comments from some local business that have told us their customers have said ‘We’re not going to come shop in your stores because we can’t bring our dog downtown,’” explained Rossland Chamber of Commerce manager, Maritza Reilly. “When it’s affecting businesses in Rossland, that’s where we come in. Our businesses members are telling us there is an issue so we are speaking up and saying something needs to take place and that we advocate for responsible dog ownership, not a dog ban.”
If approved at this week’s board meeting, as it is expected to be, the Chamber will be submitting a letter to Rossland City Council recommending solutions on how to mitigate problems if the bylaw is rescinded.
“We have drafted a letter that supports change in the ‘dogs downtown’ bylaw. What we’ve done is addressed three concerns that people have with regards to dogs, one being dogs off leash, another being dogs tied near entrances to buildings or in stairways. And of course the dog poop,” explained Reilly. Proposed changes include the installation of ‘dogs on leash’ signs, the designation of areas for tying dogs up, and the provision of dispensers for doggy bags and waste bins in the area.
While it seems many dog owners and downtown shop owners think alike and are in favour or removing the dog ban, not everyone in the Rossland business community is excited about having dogs return downtown.
Butch and Enza Boutry of Butch Boutry’s ski shop have spoken out on the issue, maintaining that dogs and their store are not a good match. Says Boutry, “It goes two ways, I guess. A lot of people like dogs, but we don’t really like them because they try and come in our store sometimes. What we have in the store is clothes and if they brush up against the clothes, people won’t want to buy them.”
A number of people knowingly break the current bylaw by walking their dogs in the off limits area, and Boutry believes that, bylaw or no bylaw, people’s habits won’t change. “I don’t think it’s stopping people from coming if they can’t bring their dogs down here. People are going to do what they’re going to do anyhow, they always have. So it’s up to the individuals, I guess, to decide for themselves.”
The Chamber, however, believes the bylaw is keeping people from shopping downtown and hopes, through its letter to council, to further raise awareness on the issue.
“We just want to make sure council knows that businesses are being affected by this bylaw and it’s not just the local residents speaking up. It’s also visitors and potential investors in our area that are speaking out on the issue as well.”