Leash-free frolicking zone open


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July 17, 2014 10:01 AM

Enjoying the freedom of the new off-leash dog park, it is a great place to let your dog run to its heart’s content, chasing balls and playing with new friends like this photo demonstrates. - Tom Pierson Photo

Local dogs are now free to roam and frolic in a large fenced enclosure as part of a pilot project. The city already has a dog park, but it is unfenced. The new enclosure is located at 42 Street and 47 Avenue and is 1.5 acres in size, available daily from dawn to dusk.

“It will allow our community services team to gauge the level of community support for a future, permanent, fully-fenced leash free park,” said Alan Cayford, director of public works.

Talking about where the idea of an off-leash dog park came from, “I know it was identified as a need in the city. The city certainly had another space that was designated, but it wasn’t fenced and it was going to be expensive to fence, there was poor parking, it was not in a favourable area,” said Cayford.

“This piece of grass where we stand here today was available not being used. And we had some fencing that was readily available that we didn’t have to buy. We were able to get it put up, cut the grass add a couple of picnic tables and we have a spot ready to go.

“So we are going to run this temporarily as a pilot project until we get some feedback as we continue to search for a more permanent place.”

While Cayford they have not discussed turning this location into a permanent off-leash dog park, “Our intention is to co-locate a fenced off-leash dog park with the SPCA when they relocate to a new building,” he said.

“It’s all part of the pilot project and we’ll see what kind of feedback we get and go forward from there.”

While it has only been open a short time, park staff have been encouraged by the number of people using it already. There are waste facilities and bags for people to use in order to keep the park clean.

Cayford said he would like to see people getting comfortable bringing their dogs here to let them off leash, “Rather than doing that in places we’d sooner not have them do that.”

It did not take long from inception to reality.

“When the fencing became available,” said Cayford, “it took us a couple of weeks to get the fencing up, and another couple of weeks to get the garbage cans here and set up and the picnic tables in and get the grass cut.”

From original idea to opening the park, Cayford said it was probably less than three months.

“The dog owners that are in the park, are very happy to have a place to go,” said Cayford.

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