City looking into more off-leash dogs

Mayor Walter Jakeway brought the issue to council Tuesday evening because he said there’s the potential for complaints

With strong enforcement of animal control expected in changing the community’s animal control service provider, the city will look into options for more off-leash dog areas.

Mayor Walter Jakeway brought the issue to council Tuesday evening because he said there’s the potential for complaints with Coastal Animal Control Services taking over this spring – a company that has promised random weekend and evening patrols.

“We recently made a change in our (animal) enforcement policy in the city and I’m getting lots of feedback that there’s not enough places for people to run their dogs off leashes,” Jakeway said. “I want to ask staff how to increase the availability and size of where people can run their dogs off leash so we don’t end up with a huge enforcement problem and a lot of very unhappy pet owners.”

Jakeway said although he’s not a dog owner, he would imagine people would prefer to see more parks and trails available for off-leash, rather than a small dog park like Penfield West Linear Park. Coun. Mary Storry, a dog owner who visits the park, said the small off-leash park can get a little crowded.

“Sometimes we have a little trouble parking because there’s so many cars and there’s so many dog owners,” Storry said. “I totally agree we need to look at some other options like a wilderness path. I would certainly like to investigate the opportunity for some trails, some sections of one of our parks for an off-leash trail.”

Storry suggested council refer the issue to the city’s newly formed Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission to investigate and report back to council on off-leash opportunities. Council agreed and voted in favour of getting advice from the commission before taking any action. Meanwhile, the city does have roughly $20,000 set aside for a second dog park, similar to Penfield West Linear Park, for 2014. Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said the city is considering building the park at Nunns Creek Park, on the backside near the baseball diamonds, or in Willow Point Park next to Alder Street behind the ball hockey box.