City may take a run at off-leash dog areas

Campbell River needs more areas for dogs to run, but council is holding off on making a decision

The city should run pilot programs before committing itself to any off- leash dog areas, according to a recommendation from a new city commission.

Coun. Larry Samson, chair of the Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission, said the city should follow a model initiated by Nanaimo and hold off until it can determine that off-leash areas are what the community truly wants.

Samson said the first step is to have city staff select four potential locations for dog off-leash sites and present them to the commission for review.

“The commission will approve the sites that they would like considered and presented to the public through a public consultation process,” Samson said in a report to council. “Sites to be selected (would be) based on public feedback and a pilot program run for one year at the selected sites. After the one-year pilot, it will be determined if the off leash site is successful and will continue.”

Samson said there is considerable community support for the establishment of dog off leash areas in the community and the commission is anticipating strong participation in the public consultation process.

The commission also recommends the city consult with other organizations such as Greenways Land Trust, School District 72, and the province.

The idea of adding off leash areas came about in early March, shortly after council awarded the animal enforcement contract to Coastal Animal Control.

Mayor Walter Jakeway was concerned the new company, which does random evening and weekend patrols, would crackdown on dogs illegally running off leash.

“I’m getting lots of feedback that there’s not enough places for people to run their dogs off leashes,” Jakeway said at a council meeting March 5. “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.”

On Coun. Mary Storry’s suggestion, council referred the issue to the Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission to come back with a recommendation for council to consider.

Meanwhile, the city has budgeted roughly $20,000 for a second off leash-dog park, similar to Penfield West Linear Park, for 2014.

The city is considering building the park at either Nunns Creek Park, on the backside near the baseball diamonds, or at Willow Point Park behind the ball hockey box, located in the lower parking lot.