A West Vancouver citizen is congratulating 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 states that Metro Vancouver research shows ‘significant’ impact on natural vegetation within six metres of trail caused by dogs.
Hundal said that assertion was nonsensical and it was written by an individual biased against dogs. Hundal claims 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 official 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 and the District of West Vancouver has since agreed to remove that reference completely from the Trails Plan. Hundal said he is very pleased that the district took these concerns 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,” he said.
Hundal said humans cause much more damage to the wild environment and we generally tend to accept it. He said if people are allowed on the trails, so should dog walkers.