New rules to ensure access for guide dogs

Provincial legislation includes housing rights for service dogs, stiffer fines for violators who deny access

Vancouver Island resident Barb Moody with her new guide dog Sky last April

People with disabilities who use guide dogs or service dogs are being promised equal access to public places such as restaurants and the transit system under planned provincial reforms.

New legislation introduced Thursday would guarantee them the same access rights and privileges as anyone else, and ensure those rights override any pet restrictions imposed in housing complexes by landlords or stratas.

Retired guide and service dogs will also be protected under the housing rules so they don’t have to be separated from their owners even if a new dog has taken up their old role.

“With these changes we can make sure that a fully certified dog will be appropriately recognized and won’t result in someone with a disability being turned away from a service,” Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell said.

Violators such as stores and restaurants who refuse entry to service dogs will also face stiffer fines of as much as $3,000.

Disability Alliance BC executive director Jane Dyson said tougher penalties were long overdue and the current maximum fine of $200 was “grossly inadequate.”

She said complaints from service dog owners are rare in Vancouver, but said it can be a bigger problem in other parts of the province.

“Hopefully fines will be a last resort,” she said.

The new legislation would require guide and service dogs to be trained by an accredited facility, or to get certified to those standards if they are brought in from outside B.C.

Certified service dogs will have to wear visible standardized ID tags or cards to make their status clear to business owners, landlords and transit staff.

Dyson said the consistent identification – replacing various methods used to date – should help ensure businesses and other service providers understand their responsibilities.

Certified trainers will also be able to take dogs and puppies-in-training into any public place a fully certified dog is allowed. That’s intended to give them more exposure to new and diverse environments before they go into actual service.

Just Posted

LETTER: Recreational angling has low-impact on Fraser salmon

Jason Tonelli writes about his displeasure at the call to close recreational fishing on the Fraser

Hope’s Wheeled Wild Women hit the road for cancer research

Group of friends ready for the 200-km bike trek that ends in Hope

PHOTOS: Paintings return to Kilby for fifth annual festival

The Plein Air Festival will be taking place at the historic site all weekend

Cougar spotted in Seabird Island

Residents are asked to report all sightings to conservation

VIDEO: Masterpieces begin to take shape at Hope’s chainsaw competition

More than a dozen chainsaw carvers, including one 14-year-old carver, taking part in four-day event

Sts’ailes invites adults to become engaged in Halq’eméylem with new video series

‘Qw’oqwel te Qw’oqwel’ gives language learners an immersive way to learn Halq’eméylem

Young balance-bikers race in B.C.’s inaugural Strider Cup

The course has several obstacles including ‘Mount Scary’ and the ‘Noodle Monster’

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Maple Ridge’s first retail cannabis store opens Monday

Spiritleaf is just the second private pot shop in the Fraser Valley

Most Read