Upon investigation, it was found out that there had been indeed no formal study. The District of West Vancouver has agreed to remove that reference completely from the Trails Plan.
A West Vancouver citizen congratulates the local government on its prompt action on removing dubious research that was included in a recent staff report.
Last month, Paul Hundal wrote to the district about the district’s draft plan for trails, the final chapter of which stated that Metro Vancouver research showed dogs caused “significant” impact on natural vegetation within six metres of a trail.
Hundal claims that the assertion is “nonsensical” and written by an individual biased against dogs. He claims that the Metro Vancouver research was written by one person and it would be a stretch of imagination to call it research by any academic or scientific standard.
“The citizen report was written by a person, who I believe had a bias against dogs and used a flawed methodology. He examined the Bridgeman Creek Trail, used currently by dog walkers, north of Hwy 1’s Lynn Creek bridge. He looked at compaction damage around the trail. He assumed that all compaction and damage off the trail was from dogs. He then determined that damage was seen up to 6 metres from the trail, which is a lot,” Hundal said.
Concerned that the staff would rely on that claim to justify excessive restriction on dogs when planning trail uses, Hundal wrote to senior district officials asking for the removal of the research from the report. Hundal talked to Andrew Banks, senior manager of parks, who investigated his concerns by getting the author of the trail plan to contact Metro Vancouver to find the source of the study that claimed that dogs did damage to trails.
Upon investigation, it was found out that there had been indeed no formal study. The District of West Vancouver has agreed to remove that reference completely from the Trails Plan. Hundal says he is very pleased that the district took his concern about the reliability of this information quite seriously and followed up to determine its source.
“If there is damage from dogs to trails, then the extent of it should be determined scientifically. Anecdotal evidence on a controversial subject like this is bound to be affected by bias so should not be relied on. If you don’t like dogs on trails, you are more likely to blame dogs for any damage you do see,” Hundal says.
Hundal says humans cause much more damage to the wild environment and we generally tend to accept it. If people are allowed on the trails, so should dog walkers, he says.