Off-leash areas in park: users comments wanted

Parks and Recreation staff are reviewing the current policy for dog off-leash areas in our local parks. It’s a contentious issue that never fails to generate spirited debate. They want to hear from users. Details below:

Notice of Public Information Update
Parks, Forestry and Recreation Staff are hosting a public information update. The current off-leash area of the park has been assessed to be suitable for off-leash activities.
The purpose of this meeting is to:
Review the People, Dogs and Parks Strategy
Review and fine tune the Off – Leash Area
“Conditions of Use” with respect to High Park and Rennie Park. Share ideas, comments and solutions.

Date: Tuesday, January 15, 2008, 7:00 pm
Location: Swansea Town Hall
95 Lavinia Avenue – Rousseau Room
Contact Information: Helen Sousa, Supervisor 416-392-6599

2 thoughts on “Off-leash areas in park: users comments wanted

  1. The main problem with this whole exercise is the complete lack of enforcement of the off-leash ban outside the designated areas.

    Unfortunately, there are still too many irresponsible dog owners who are arrogant enough to ignore the law, as well as the wellbeing and rights of their fellow citizens, and who let their dogs run loose on the sidewalks and in the parks outside the off-leash areas.

    Indeed, we are grateful to all those responsible dog owners who respect the law and use the off-leash areas, and we support warm heartedly the maintenance and even in some instances the expansion of off-leash areas.

    However, without proper enforcement the whole concept of off-leash areas is meaningless.

    Granting the right to public park areas to dogs, does in fact exclude a number people, those suffering from dog phobia, from using these areas. In other words, the right of dogs in this case takes precedence over the right of people. We accept that this compromise may be necessary – but only on the condition that the fines for breaking the law, ie. letting the dog run off leash outside the designated areas, are increased substantially (at least x10) and that proper enforcement is guaranteed.

    Based on recent experiences, the City could more than cover the cost of enforcement by handing out fines. On one stroll along the Humber River, going north from Old Mill, we encountered 16 dogs off-leash – despite all the signage making it perfectly clear that such behaviour is illegal!

  2. All
    It as very enlightening to attend the off leash dog meeting on Tuesday Jan. 15. This issue indeed has dichotomous viewpoints. I think it is great that the City is examining the situation of off-leash areas in parks and has developed an assessment form by which to evaluate selected areas for off leash areas. A couple of points come to mind that I would like to express.

    1) Perhaps the City should examine potential new sites for off leash areas before they begin reducing the size of some of the existing. The dog population is growing and it is evident, from the condition of dog hill in High Park that the area cannot sustain the amount of use it is getting. I would suggest that other areas outside of High Park be examined to provide additional off-leash areas. I am all in favour of opening other off-leash zones so that the current zones can be rehabilitated.

    2) Evaluation process – The process tends to look at land uses and determine what space an off-leash dog area might fit into. Maybe the off-leash dog area should be more formulaic in nature. Determine what sort of space an average dog requires to exercise and play (Lets imagine it’s 10x10M or 100M2) then multiple that by the number of dog tags issued in the allocated district. This provides a number of dogs times the required dog space = the area of dog space required in the district. Measure that against the current area and it can be determined if the dog area is over or under for the district. Apply the evaluation criteria against the creation of new dog areas.

    3) Evaluation – it is evident from the meeting that the shape of the space is as important as the size. Dog owners want trails and paths for off-leash as much as open areas. I would also thing shade would be a welcomed commodity. The area’s soil should also come into the evaluation (drainage, compaction) as well as the the ground covers ability to withstand constant use. Slopes and natural sensitive areas are to be avoided.

    4) Ownership vs proprietorship. Most users of off lease dog areas are pet owners, but there are a number of entrepreneurial types that walk dogs for business and profit. The business dog walkers are earning profit from the use of the City’s parks and open spaces. These users are earning income from the use of park property similar to the vendors who sell drinks and food on park property. Many of the dog walking businesses are probably not issuing invoices or tax receipts for there service. I would like to suggest that the City examine a requirement for these dog walking companies (or people walking more than two dogs) to be licensed to operate there business in the city park systems. This seems a small requirement for those profiting from the use of the park areas. These funds may be used to help replenish the off-leash dog areas.

    5) When dogs are on leash. I would finally wish that dog owners restrict their dogs from showering in the new Lott Fountain at the cornet of Parkside and Bloor. The dog hair tends to clog up the recirculating pumps for the water and burn them out. The water feature is an attraction and a dedicated element from the Lott family to the City of Toronto (1963). The water provides a pleasant sound to help drown out some of the traffic noise while seating is provide for relaxing at the new entrance to High Park.
    Please don’t wash your dog here.

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