Dogs in Parks

Off-leash Dog Parks

dogpark_web 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.

Nanaimo's 12 off-leash dog parks

  • Beban Park (entrance off Labieux Rd)
  • Cable Bay Trail (ROW Nicola Rd)
  • Westwood Lake (area at the back of the park by the power lines)
  • Colliery Dam Park (upper dam trail only)
  • Beaufort Park (grassy portion accessed off of Chelsea Rd)
  • Diver Lake Park (off-leash between October 1 and April 30)
  • St. George Ravine Park
  • Invermere Beach Park (check tide information to ensure tide is out far enough)
  • May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park (forested land adjacent to park)
  • Gallow's Park (Protection Island)
  • Northfield Park (Parkway Highway rest stop behind 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, 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 off-leash parks, 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 wast on the ground poses health risks to humans.
  • Your water - pet waste carries disease causing organisms such as E.colia, girardia 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 the private businesses below to dispose of household pet waste.

Dog licenses

Every dog in Nanaimo requires a dog license at a cost of $30 after a dog is 12 weeks of age. This fee is reduced to $25 if paid on or before February 28 of the licensing year.

If a person becomes the owner of a dog after July 1 of the licensing year, the fee is $20.

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: October 19, 2017

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