Nelson, BC was one of our stops during this road trip. We had planned to spend the night there and then have coffee with friends in the morning. You can imagine my surprise when we found out that dogs are banned in downtown Nelson. I thought it was odd, as I’ve never been anywhere that had an out-right ban on dogs (other than in some parks as a means to protect wildlife, which is absolutely understandable).
Regardless, we decided to go ahead with our plans and booked a dog friendly hotel in Nelson, making the common sense assumption that the hotel would be located outside of downtown and the “ban” area, makes sense, right? Wrong….the hotel was downtown! One block into the “no dogs” area. Short of teleporting Rocco, I really didn’t see any other option than to break the law and walk the forbidden path. The very helpful concierge at the hotel advised us that the police focuses on educating tourists rather than ticketing them, and yes, it’s the police that goes after you, should you walk your dog in the forbidden zone…..
I decided to do some research and talk to people to find out the logic behind the ban. Here is an interesting article about the ban from the National Post.
The ban has been in place for over 20 years and the official reason behind it is to “keep the streets clean for the tourists”. The actual reason is to discourage transients, who often travel with their dogs, from entering downtown.
As attitudes towards dogs have changed over the years, the ban has become increasing unpopular with locals and tourists alike. And yet, the city is staling any discussion about revoking the ban.
The downtown business association is complaining that the ban is costing them money. More and more people are traveling with their dogs and many of them either avoid Nelson or don’t patronize downtown businesses. This is true especially in the summer, as people are not able to leave their dogs in the car, and since most hotels don’t allow to leave a pet unattended, the tourists take their money elsewhere.
We were discouraged by the ban and avoided the downtown area completely. Instead decided to go for walks and meet with friends in a friendlier area of the town.
It is unfortunate that even though the by-law is so unpopular with the majority of the local population and it poses a huge inconvenience to people traveling with their dogs, the city upheld the ban in winter of 2013.
A couple of tips for those who are traveling to Nelson with their dog:
– there are hotels and restaurants outside of the forbidden zone, so you can plan your trip accordingly.
– there is a number of doggie day cares and pet sitters available. I would highly recommend discussing their availability for weekends and evenings prior to your trip
– you can contact the city and let them know how the ban is affecting your travel plans and why it might be time to lift it.