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Mayor says unleash the hounds! as councillor moves to keep dog parks closed

Ward 3 councillor June Hofland issues notice of motion to keep city's two off-leash, fenced-in dog parks closed due to COVID concerns
20191029 dog park ts 2
Peter Misersky dog park. Submitted photo

Ward 3 councillor June Hofland, concerned over the small, confined spaces, wants the city’s two fenced-in, leash-free dog parks to remain closed.

In a notice of motion that will be read for the first time at Monday night’s planning meeting of council, Hofland is asking for the two parks, on Bristol Street and Peter Misersky Park – to be closed “until such time as staff have reported back on the feasibility of a fenced dog park located in a non-residential area for consideration in the 2021 budget.”

Both parks are currently closed but scheduled to open soon. There are currently no public health-related reasons for them to be closed.

Bristol Street is a new park nearing completion and plans are to reopen Peter Misersky when Bristol Street opens.

Hofland’s motion will need support of the majority of the 13-member council if it is to move forward to an Aug. 24 meeting for possible referral to September for decision.

Monday will not see delegates on the matter, nor will the August meeting. That would come in September if it gets that far. 

“The file of dog parks has come back and forth to Council and this notice of motion is to encourage Council to review our decisions about Peter Misersky Park and Bristol Street Park. Council needs to find a clear path forward by directing staff to investigate a location for a fenced dog park that is not located in a residential neighbourhood,” Hofland’s motion reads.

“With the arrival of COVID-19, it is essential that we reconsider these small fenced areas where people can gather to exercise their dogs to a larger area leash free area that will, in the future, accommodate physical distancing.”

Staff has already been directed to look at the feasibility of establishing an off-leash, fenced-in dog park in a non-residential area of the city.

Mayor Cam Guthrie took to social media to voice his opposition to the motion.

“I certainly will not be one of these 7 votes,” Guthrie said.

“There are no concerns from the Emergency Operations Control Group Public Health contact related to the operations of these parks due to COVID-19. NONE. Mitigation measures are being implemented at Misersky and Bristol is about to open. A larger non-residential area park is already being examined and reviewed by staff because of the current approved Council direction to city staff to do so.”

Guthrie said the city is waiting for the final construction to be completed on Bristol Street “so that we can open both facilities at the same time, which will be very soon.”

He said there are no special requirements needed before the parks can reopen.

“There are also no additional provincial or public health requirements to alter these two existing facilities. City staff have confirmed with Public Health that our off-leash dog park facilities are permitted to reopen under their current configuration with no alterations,” the mayor said.