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

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read