Dogs in Parks

We recognize the importance of dogs to our residents by providing a number of off-leash areas where dog owners can safely exercise their pets. Each dog off-leash park includes signage, a dispenser stocked with biodegradable doggie bags and a trash bin. Even though an area or trail is designated off-leash, you are still required to pick up after your dog and dispose the bags in a designated garbage bin, please do not throw into the bushes.


Nanaimo's 12 off-leash dog parks

Beban Park

2300 Bowen Road (access is off entrance off Dorman Rd). There are two fenced off-leash areas, one dedicated to small dogs and one typically for larger breeds. 

Cable Bay Trail

ROW Nicola Rd, follow signage to the trail head. This trail is off-leash and leads down to the water. 

Westwood Lake Park

381 Westwood Rd, please use the parking lot and please keep your dog on-leash until you reach the back of the lake and are in the designated area along the power lines. You will see signage along the main trail to access. 

Colliery Dam Park

635 Wakesiah Avenue will take you to the main parking lot, however you will need to walk to the upper dam trail for the off-leash area. There is a small parking lot located off of Harewood Mines Road to access the upper dam trail more easily. 

Beaufort Park

69 Lorne Place. The off-leash area is partially fenced located in the grassy portion accessed off of Chelsea Rd.

Wardropper Park

2957 Departure Bay Road. This is a fully fenced off-leash area with grass and a view of Departure Bay. 

Diver Lake Park

2430 Black Franks Drive. This large field next to the parking lot is an official off-leash area year round. 

St. George Ravine Park

980 Terminal Avenue N. Features an open grassy area, trail and designated off-leash area. 

Invermere Beach Park

6420 Invermere Road. This off-leash area is located at the bottom of the stairs along the beach. Check tide information to ensure it is out far enough for the dogs to run. 

May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park

6700 & 6780 Dover Road. This popular park features an off leash forested area with trails, adjacent to park.

Gallows Point Light Park

208 Colvilleton Trail on Protection Island. This is the island's only dog off-leash area. 

Northfield Rotary Lookout Park

2430 Northfield Road. This Parkway Highway rest stop features a fenced dog off-leash area behind the visitor info kiosk. 

Map of off-leash dog parks

Print off this map of Nanaimo's dog off-leash areas (PDF format).

"No dog" areas

  • Playgrounds
  • Sports Fields
  • Cemeteries
  • Pipers Lagoon (from April 1 to October 31)
  • Departure Bay Beach Beach (from May 1 to September 30)
  • Buttertubs Marsh

Dog off-leash park rules

In addition to knowing when and where dogs are allowed off-leash and leash optional, there are some simple rules for owners to follow:

  • Make sure your dog is wearing a current license tag on their collar and that their vaccinations are up to date.
  • Pick up after your dog and dispose of waste in a garbage bin.
  • Do not let your dog jump on people.
  • Female dogs in heat and puppies under 4 months are not allowed.
  • Owners must be in attendance with their dog at all times within the boundaries of the dog off-leash area.
  • Owners must obey all park rules and relevant parking requirements.
  • Dogs must be on a leash prior to entering and upon leaving the off-leash area.
  • Leashed dogs are not allowed in the penned off-leash parks (such as the Northfield and Beban Park off-leash areas), as this creates issues with leash aggression and dogs feeling they need to protect their owners.
  • A maximum of two dogs per person in the dog off-leash area.
  • Dogs that are deemed vicious and restricted breeds are banned from off-leash parks and must be leashed and muzzled on trails.
  • Ensure you have control of your dog and are in sight of your dog at all times, whether on or off-leash.
  • Owners are personally liable for any damages or injury inflicted by their dog.
  • Children must be supervised.
  • Pets must be under the control of the owner and the dog must be in sight of the owner at all times.
  • Choke chain collars are to be removed prior to entering a fenced off leash dog park.

A maximum fine of $500 can be levied against any person not complying with these responsibilities. Call Animal Control at 250-616-0233 or Bylaw Enforcement at 250-755-4422 to report infractions.

Dogs, parks and wildlife

Our parks are important habitats for wildlife, fish and the foreshore. Some of these parks require dogs to be on a leash. While your dog's activities may seem harmless and fun, wildlife and their habitats are significantly impacted in ways that you may not be able to see.

Wildlife has a place too

  • Unleashed dogs can harm birds, fish, and other wildlife.
  • Dogs can also disturb breeding areas or harass overwintering wildlife causing them to use valuable energy reserves.
  • Dogs running loose in natural parks also trample plants and create inappropriate trails. Worse, they can endanger themselves, other dogs and people.

Unleashed dogs relieve themselves at will

Dog poop is essentially raw sewage; it contains harmful organisms like E. Coli, Leptospira and roundworms. These organisms can be contracted by other dogs, wildlife and even children. Bacteria from dog poop can wash into the ocean.

Sensitive park ecosystems

  • Richard's Marsh Park
  • Piper's Lagoon Park
  • Neck Point Park
  • Lost Lake Park
  • Linley Valley Park
  • Bowen Park
  • Third St. Park
  • Westwood Lake Park (except for designated off-leash area)
  • Walley Creek Park Planta Park

Keeping your dog on-leash in natural areas is not only a responsible decision that protects wildlife and our urban environment, it's also the law. City of Nanaimo Bylaws require dogs be leashed outside of designated off-leash areas. Violators can be fined $150 per dog.

Scoop the poop

Scooping your dog's poop isn't just a courtesy for those walking behind you; it is also the healthy and environmentally sound thing to do and it's the law. Just one day's waste from one dog can contain 7.8 million fecal coliform bacteria. With over 8,000 licensed dogs in Nanaimo it's pretty clear dealing with dog doo is a big deal.

  • Your health - leaving pet waste on the ground poses health risks to humans.
  • Your water - pet waste carries disease causing organisms such as E.coli, giardia and salmonella, which can make water unsafe for drinking or swimming.
  • Your community - swimming beaches and shellfish beds can be shut down due to bacterial contamination created by pet waste.

What can you do?

You can follow these easy steps to be part of the solution to pet waste contamination.

  1. Bring It - Always bring a plastic bag when you walk your dog, especially if you are just heading out around your neighbourhood. Keep one in your purse or jacket at all times. All dog off-leash parks are equipped with at least one dog bag dispenser and garbage can.
  2. Scoop It - Use the bag as a glove to pick up the waste. Scoop up the waste and turn the bag inside out and around the waste.
  3. Do not throw bags into the trees or off to the side of the trail. Not only is this littering and unpleasant to look at, poop not disposed of properly can lead to potential health issues for both humans and the environment.
  4. Dispose It - Properly dispose pet waste by placing it in the garbage bins provided in our parks or flushing it (not the bag!) down the toilet.

The City of Nanaimo does not allow pet waste in curbside garbage. Pet waste is accepted at the Regional District of Nanaimo dump or you can use private businesses (Google "pet waste disposal services" to find local companies that offer this service).

Dog licenses

All dogs that reside within the City of Nanaimo's city limits must be licenced. Visit our "Dog Licencing in the City of Nanaimo" page for fees and details.

For more information on dog licensing, please see the "Animals in Our Community" brochure.

Additional links

Other City of Nanaimo facilities and parks

Visit the Nanaimo Facilities Search for information on City facilities.
Visit the Nanaimo Parks Search for information on City parks..

Last updated: May 26, 2023

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