Changes to the physical distancing bylaw - it's about your dog.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 9th, 2020



Dog walker - 2 dogs

Walking a dog? Keep them on a leash

They forgot about the woof woofs.

The debate on social distancing was all about people and how far apart we had to stay away from each other.

It took a while – but we got the hang of it.

Apparently we didn’t fully understand that is was not just us – it included man’s best friend. The bylaw enforcement officers saw the problem – it got on to the Emergency Coordination Group, led by the city manager.

That got it onto a Standing committee agenda.

The lead up to the rather minor change is interesting.

It’s wordy and complicated but that is what the Rule of Law is all about. A city council can’t just do what they want – they have to justify it as well

Council ALL 2018

Council – learning that the rule of law determines what they do.

Whereas on March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared a worldwide pandemic regarding the Novel Coronavirus 19 (“COVID-19 Pandemic”); and

Whereas on March 17, 2020, the Province of Ontario declared an emergency relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic under the provisions of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.E.9 (“Emergency Management Act”); and

Whereas section 4 of the Emergency Management Act provides that the head of council of a municipality may declare that an emergency exists in the municipality or in any part thereof and may take such action and make such orders as they consider necessary and are not contrary to law to implement the emergency plan of the municipality and to protect property and the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the emergency area; and

Whereas on March 21, 2020 an emergency was declared by the Mayor of the City of Burlington, under the provisions of the Emergency Management Act, relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic; and

Whereas the Provincial Government’s modelling and forecast projects that the State of Emergency will last months and will result in a severe and long-term challenge to the health care system; and

Whereas the Council of the City of Burlington considers the protection of health and safety of the public to be a paramount concern, and has suspended the operations of all City facilities, other than those deemed essential for the welfare of the citizens of the City of Burlington, during the COVID-19 emergency; and

Dr Meghani at news conference Hamilton

She ordered that when you walk outside you keep six feet away from everyone else. Dr. Meghani, Medical Officer of Health, Region of Halton

Whereas the Medical Officer of Health recommended physical distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres from other individuals who are not members of the same household; and

Whereas The Corporation of the City of Burlington considers it necessary to enact a regulation to support the intent and purpose of the Provincial Orders made under the Emergency Management Act in order to protect property and the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of Burlington, by prohibiting certain activities and regulating physical distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency; and

Whereas sections 8, 9 and 11 of the Municipal Act, 2001 authorize the City of Burlington to pass by-laws necessary and desirable for municipal purposes, and in particular, paragraphs 5, 6, and 8 of subsection 11(2) authorize by-laws respecting public assets of the municipality, the economic, social and environmental well-being of City, the health, safety and well-being of persons, the protection of persons and property; and

Whereas section 425 of the Municipal Act, 2001 provides that any person who contravenes any by-law of the municipality is guilty of an offence; and

Whereas on April 6, 2020, Council of The Corporation of the City of Burlington passed By-Law 17-2020, being a By-law to Promote and Regulate Physical Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic State of Emergency;

Whereas an amendment to By-law 17-2020 is required to regulate the physical distancing of animals on Public Property;

Now therefore the Council of the Corporation of the City of Burlington hereby enacts as follows:

Runners two dogs we know what this is about

The dogs know what social distancing is.

1. By-law 17-2020 Part 1: Definitions 1 is amended by adding the following definitions:

“Animal” means any member of the animal kingdom other than a human;

“Leash” means a line or for leading or restraining an animal, including a dog, while the animal is being transported from place to place outside of a cage;

“Owns” includes possess, or have control over, or keeps or have care or custody of;

2. By-law 17-2020 is amended by adding the following new Section 7 immediately following Section 6, with all subsequent sections renumbered accordingly:


On a leash – before the COVId19 period dogs were allowed to run all over the place. Not now.

7. (1) While on public property, every person who owns an animal shall keep the animal on a leash not exceeding 2 metres in length at all times.

(2) While on public property, every person who owns an animal shall ensure that the animal does not come within 2 metres of any other person or animal that does not reside with them in a single household.

3. Subject to the amendments made in this by-law, in all other respects, By-law 17- 2020 is hereby confirmed unchanged.

4. This by-law comes into force on the date of its passing.

City council will be expected to pass this byplay on the 25th day of May, 2020.

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5 comments to Changes to the physical distancing bylaw – it’s about your dog.

  • Maggie Steiss

    Well said Steven White. It appears priorities and common sense have gone out the window. Bad enough we have these onerous restrictions that are in many cases totally illogical an will do more harm than good and cost more lives than the virus but now they are worried about dogs. Good grief. Businesses are fighting to survive and many won’t. Mental heath issues or on the rise and will take a major toll on our already overburdened mental health supports, Suicides are up. Domestic violence is up. More people will die because they can’t get the medical help they need than will die of the virus. We are loosing our civil liberties, And the council is worried about dogs. I’m appalled. When this council was voted in I had high hopes. I’m having my doubts now. Beam me up to please Scotty. I am not in Burlington right now due to the loss of my family home to a series of unscrupulous people. (Check out my google reviews for Northwood mortgage and Karen Parrott, Greg Eade mortgage broker Marcel Leclerc at Halton Heritage Reality and Apex property management for details). If worrying about dogs is more important than the more challenging and deadly issues facing Burlington than I despair for it’s future.

  • Sam

    Yeah it might seem stupid till you walk around some neighborhoods and see people using there dogs to socialize and not social distance . Burlington is bad for this . I watch people stand next to each other talking when there dogs play .

  • Stephen White

    OMG! You have got to be kidding!

    In the midst of the most serious crisis affecting this country since World War II and the only thing this Council can do is pass an inane motion regarding dogs on leashes. Utterly unbelievable!

    Most dog owners in this City are responsible, and they don’t need to be micro-managed like recalcitrant three year olds. If there is an infraction Animal Control has the authority to deal with it already. Where this Council should be focusing its attention is upon more substantive, important concerns such as how we are going to support local businesses once things open up, and how to support individuals who have lost employment, are dealing with loss of loved ones, and what many suspect is an alarming increase in mental health issues.

    Ah…but that would require insight and leadership. Much easier to fixate on superficial trivia like bike lanes, dogs on leashes and the number of cars in a parade.

    Kirk to Enterprise. Beam me up Scotty. There’s no intelligent life down here.

  • Perryb

    Boy, they trotted out all the boilerplate for this one!

  • Trevor

    Wonder who is going to enforce this. The COVID-19 compliance hotline won’t deal with it. They punt it to Animal Control who appear to have one person.