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Neighbours unhappy with new fenced-in dog park (5 photos)

Barking dogs, traffic and parking issues, lack of consultation and location are among the concerns with the city's first fenced-in dog park in Misersky Park

A number of nearby residents, including some dog owners, are upset about the new fenced-in dog park in the city's east end.

John Farley, who lives in the Mountford Road complex adjacent to the new facility in adjacent Peter Misersky Park, did not mince words.

“It’s a real shit show over there,” said Farley of the leash-free, fenced-in park, that opened five weeks ago.

He is one of a number of area residents who have contacted the city with their concerns, which include bags of dog waste laying on the ground, parking and traffic issues, the park being used past its dusk closing time and continual barking.

Bottom line is they believe the park should never have been put where it was, adding the neighbours were never consulted by the city.

Even some dog owners who engaged in earlier city-wide consultation about leash-free parks it is not what they asked for, including being too small for the numbers using it and being in the wrong the location.

"Mostly it's the barking," says Darrell Allerton, who lives just 10 metres from the dog park.

Not just the barking of dogs in the park, but that they initiate barking by other neighbourhood dogs.

The city says it is planning a meeting with the upset residents and will be embarking on an education campaign to improve behaviour at the park.

There have also been some verbal confrontations between dog owners using the park and nearby residents, including one heated argument that broke out while GuelphToday was at the location taking a photograph.

"Bunch of whiners," said one dog owner of those with concerns.

"Look how happy the dogs are and how well it's being used," added one upset dog owner, motioning to the park, which had about 25 dogs and owners in it at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday.

None of the dog owners wanted to be interviewed.

Farley said the city did not do proper consultation with area residents prior to the park being put in and is not following best practices for dog parks.

“It’s a planning misadventure,” he said.

“We have up to 45-50 dogs in there sometimes. They’re in there as early as 7 a.m. and they’re there after dusk. Barking and making all the dogs that live nearby bark in response,” Farley said.

Farley said it’s not a case of NIMBYism (not in my back yard). His argument lends itself more to a case of NIABY — not in anyone’s back yard).

He said it should have been put in a location not adjacent to a residential area.

The Misersky Park location was chosen in part because of its accessibility, both for users and for city staff to maintain the facility year-round.

City deputy CAO Colleen Clack said they have received 11 emails from area residents concerning the dog park, some of them positive.

"We have heard very specific concerns from residents in the neighbourhood; We will be inviting those adjacent to the new fenced dog park to a meeting where they can share their concerns. We’re committed to working on solutions that balance the needs of every park user," Clack said.

She said the city looked at five other municipalities before choosing the site for the park and all of them have fenced facilities either in public parks or in conservation areas.

Clack said the city encourages people to call bylaw enforcement if they see inappropriate behaviour.

She said several measures would be implemented to do more to educate dog owners on the proper use of the park within a week, including a city staff person on site over the weekend and at various times throughout the coming weeks to educate dog owners on proper use of the fenced leash free area.

An email would also be going out to all licensed dog owners about appropriate behaviour, updates on the city web site about parking near the park and a broader education program about etiquette.

The Misersky Park enclosure is the first fenced-in dog park in the city. A second is to be built this year on Bristol Street near the Edinburgh/Wellington intersection and a third is planned for Lee Street Park next summer.

The city will be sure to engage with area residents before the other two parks are built, Clack said.

Those measures aren't enough for those living close by.

“This isn’t a splash pad. It’s not a soccer pitch. It shouldn’t have been put there,” said Farley.

Tiffany Taylor said she bought her unit in the Mountford Road complex because it was a nice quiet location and adjacent to a park.

Now she only has one of these benefits, she said.

“It’s loud. Loud dogs barking early in the morning,” said Taylor, a single mother.

“I love the idea of it. I have lots of friends that have dogs and I love dogs. It’s just not the best spot,” Taylor said.