09 October 2009

Dogs Dogs Dogs

Probably the thorniest issue that comes before the Park Board concerns dogs. Love 'em or hate 'em, everybody seems to have an opinion. At the most recent meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee a proposal for new off leash areas at Devonian Park and Stanley Park (Ceperley picnic area)as well as extended hours in Portside and Fraser River parks was brought forward. All four were forwarded to the full Board for decision.

The Devonian Park proposal is long over due because of the increased density of the area. The difficulty here and at Ceperely is the abundant wildlife in the area and the proximity to Stanley Park. I suggested that at Devonian the entire proposed off leash area be fenced and staff will look at the cost. The Ceperely area is even more challenging. The Stanley Park Ecological Society spoke at the meeting to this. It is close to the Heron roosts and is in a woodpecker nesting zone. I don't believe there should be any off leash areas within Stanley Park and will advocate for that at the Board meeting.

Portside was simply a change in hours, making it an all day off leash area in the winter months. The staff proposal for Fraser River Park was similar, however some Commissioners suggested that the entire park should be off leash all year. I spoke against this. As there are only two foreshore parks along the Fraser this would mean that people who do not want to encounter off leash dogs would lose 50% of their foreshore public space.

In an urban area we have to accommodate dogs in our parks, and we should be able to share the space. I do not believe valuable foreshore area should be given over to one user group to the exclusion of others. I believe that a portion of the park can be used off leash within reasonable limits in the summer and perhaps that portion could have unlimited access off leash during the winter. I cannot support giving over the entire park all year.

Watch the agendas for the meeting when this issue will come before the full Board.

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