Toad debate hops into council

Councillors discuss dogs off leash and the need to protect toad habitat

It was a clash between dogs and frogs.

A majority of city council agreed Monday to  designate an area along Vernon Creek, at Marshall Field, as on-leash only for dogs, partly to protect spadefoot toad habitat. However, that didn’t go over well with Coun. Scott Anderson.

“There’s no pressing need for this unless you can say there is genocide on spadefoot toads by dogs,” he said.

“A lot of dogs like going into the creek. They aren’t actively destroying it.”

City staff say that dogs should be kept out of that section of the creek because spadefoot toads, which are at risk, are present, and canines can also present other environmental issues.

Anderson, though, questions the city’s dedication to toads based on recent flood work.

“We’ve dug up hundreds of tons of dirt around Marshall and there’s been no concern about toads,” he said.

Countering Anderson’s comments, city staff insisted that all work done at Marshall Field followed strict guidelines and there is a stewardship agreement in place to protect the toad.

“We have done what we can to minimize disruptions to the spadefoot toad,” said Kim Flick, planning and building services director.

Anderson attempted twice to have the on-leash rule blocked, but he did not receive any support.

“The toad has been on the city’s radar for many years,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham, adding that dog owners should have the opportunity to have their dog on leash or to let them run around.

“We get contacted frequently about conflicts (between people and dogs).”