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LETTER: Neighbour of park justified in protesting to dog owners

Reader suggests Peter Misersky park is not the best place for a fenced dog park
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GuelphToday has received the following letter from concerned Guelphite Katherine, who puts forth some solutions to the problems with Peter Misersky Park as a fenced dog park.

Response re: man approaching people at fenced parkfenced dog park strategy flaw and common sense

I attended the dog park. While there, I happened to meet the man you are referring to because I introduced myself to him. I wanted to hear what he had to say.

He had been explaining to dog owners, like myself, that when the lights go on, it's a good indicator that the park has closed. There is nothing wrong with this. Your letter insinuates that he is doing something wrong. No different than you or I reminding each other about rules.

No different than dog owners in a dog park asking young children to leave, or parents with baby stroller and baby to leave, which is the responsible thing to do.

It's not John, other residents near Misersky, you, I or any of the other dog owners that are to blame. The city plunked this park there. We need to demonstrate compassion and understanding towards those who are disturbed by this fenced dog park.

It's disrupting everyday life for some and it's honestly taking a toll on them. There is no difference whether it is disrupting only a few or many.

What matters is there are people who are negatively impacted. By the way, there were more than a few negatively impacted at the meeting last night.

Just like I said in the meeting last night. Had the city done its due diligence, we would not have a problem of a divided Guelph community. You were at the meeting on Nov 13.

The open spaces planner confirmed in the meeting that residents were not consulted and apologized. He confirmed that they did not reach out at all to speak to any consultants that are educated with best practices for fenced dog parks for size, design, location, signage, enforcement strategies, example dog associations, University of Guelph, dog behaviourist, etc.

When I asked, he also confirmed that they used data from the parks they chose for comparators but did not follow up with the municipalities to see what was working, what was not working and why, etc. They also confirmed that they used the same criteria for leash-free parks and fenced dog parks.

They are very different. A Fenced dog park requires research such as noise studies, traffic, parking studies, design, landscape, shade, size, etc. Dog behaviour can be very different in fenced parks.

The open spaces planner confirmed in the meeting that none of this was done. They confirmed that their goal was to exceed other cities in numbers re leash-free.

We don't need to exceed other cities by numbers. We need Fenced in dog parks that use best practices.

They confirmed they had already predetermined that they would only use "community" parks.

We can't use these parks after a day's work because it's dark. That is not what dog owners want so of course, some people will break the rules. Not everyone hibernates in the winter. High energy dogs need larger fenced spaces.

The third-party facilitator asked for solutions last night. My suggestions, the only way to keep the peace is to keep leash-free use in community parks without fences or gates and develop fenced-in parks utilizing best practices of minimum two acres, non-residential, 10 p.m. park close time, ample parking, appropriate signage for rules, etc.

The city asked dog owners questions in a survey that was flawed, dismissed excellent recommendations that already included best practices, locations, etc. such as Eastview park (not existing sports field), and so on. They cherry-picked the comparator parks to make them fit in their own agenda and dismissed many Guelph community members.

They need to close Peter Misersky as a fenced dog park. With leash-free park numbers in Guelph now, maybe we need less fenced dog parks but on a larger scale away from homes utilizing best practices.