Eganville – Although there is an enthusiastic group of volunteers already beginning fundraising efforts for a $25,000 dog park in the village, it appears some more discussion needs to take place before the first dog will be able to run freely.
One issue is the location of the park which currently is planned for John Street near the Geotube septage treatment plant and a few steps down from the Eganville Leader. At a committee meeting of Bonnechere Valley last Tuesday afternoon some of the drawbacks of this location were discussed as well as other possibilities presented, including asking for more research into a brand new as yet undiscussed location.
This did not sit well with Councillor Brent Patrick.
“Are we in favour of a dog park or not?” he asked. “At what point as a volunteer are you going to be like, ‘you know what? I give up. I’m not going to fundraise for 25 grand’ and we are going to keep having dogs running on the ball diamond.”
The councillor, who was chairing the committee meeting, said if councillors had other ideas or locations for a dog park, they needed to be the “boots on the ground” in finding one.
“Maybe help this cause than – in my own opinion – be a roadblock,” he said.
Recreation Manager Kevin McGrath presented council some rough cost estimates for the park, noting prices are going up quickly. The estimates he received were for $8,630 + HST for a 630-foot fence and it would be the same amount roughly for labour.
“The increase is substantial and the price is only good for five days,” he added.
“There is going to be a lot of costs there and that is just material,” he said.
With a cost of around $10,000 for material, $10,000 for labour and $5,000 as a cushion, this is a $25,000 project, Coun. Patrick noted. He said it was important to have a material and labour cost estimate before council proceed with approving the project which is being funded by a private group and that is why he requested updated pricing.
“There would be additional costs with dog stations,” Mr. McGrath cautioned. “The way things are fluctuating these days, who knows?”
Councillor Merv Buckwald questioned if there was bedrock at the site. Mr. McGrath said it is about six to eight inches down.
“So, it is liable to be drilled in posts,” Coun. Buckwald noted.
Mayor Jennifer Murphy, a supporter of the dog park initiative, said she had used one in Toronto. The mayor wondered aloud if the owners of the old school (St. James) would allow the dog owners to use the field by the school as a temporary dog park. It is a fenced area and could be a bit of a dog rodeo with owners able to meet and discuss fundraising and a dog park location.
“Would it not be easier to fundraise if they were in a temporary location?” she asked.
Other possibilities would be a fenced area near the ball diamond at Legion Field. The mayor said it was important not to damage the fields.
“Up at Legion Field, that is a tough area,” Mr. McGrath said, noting there are the soccer and ball fields there.
Coun. Patrick said the volunteers had been in favour of the park near the Geotube facility. Near Legion Field there is more pushback from neighbours.
“And in Legion Field you are in direct sunlight,” he said.
Councillor Tim Schison agreed there is a lot of opposition to a dog park near Legion Field.
“Have you noticed people using the ball diamonds as an off-leash dog park?” he questioned.
Mr. McGrath said this is happening as there has been “dog debris” on the field. Currently the ball fields are closed as per COVID restrictions.
“They are going under the caution tape,” he said. “There is some activity up there for sure.”
Coun. Patrick said asking the committee about their role in taking care of the feces and cleaning up the dog feces bags is important.
“Other municipalities have dog parks, so we are not reinventing the wheel,” the mayor said. “We have said to the committee we expect some maintenance from their committee.”
CAO Annette Gilchrist explained some of the concerns staff have about the park. One is possible expansion of the Geotube facility and this would be right where the dog park is slated to go. Another is the proximity to the existing snow dump for the village snow. She also asked if there would be a way to do a seasonal dog park so the winter snow dump is not an issue. As far as liability, she said the township would be taking the risk and giving up the land while the committee deals with the costs and maintenance.
Councilor Jack Roesner said he was not aware it would impact the possible expansion of the Geotubes and would interfere with snow removal.
“We should really step back and revisit if this is the right spot,” he said.
“I’m sure we’ve got other parcels of land which will not limit further services,” added Coun. Schison. “We really don’t want to harm those things either.”
Some people drive to a dog park anyway, so it does not need to be in the village centre, he added.
Mayor Murphy said the more she thought about it, she had concerns about a park near Legion Field.
“You do have children and adults who are afraid of dogs,” she said.
Coun. Patrick said the snow load site is further away and there is no plan to develop or expand the Geotube facility presently. If there was an expansion it would cost more than $25,000, he added.
“It’s a dog park,” he said. “It’s not like you have infrastructure. The dog park committee wants to leave natural growth in place.”
Coun Buckwald pointed out if the province decides to stop the spreading of septage on fields, then the Geotube facility will have a major expansion.
“That has been a threat since 2007,” Mayor Murphy replied.
Coun. Schison said he did not want to see the park encroaching so close to other municipal services. He said the last thing he wanted was to see a committee raise $25,000 and be frustrated.
“We don’t want to tell these people five years from now or 10 years form now they can’t use the dog park anymore,” he said.
Coun. Roesner questioned if a dog park near the existing dog pound at the Spring Creek yard would work.
“Do we want a dog park in Eganville or not?” a seemingly frustrated Coun. Patrick asked.
Council agreed for staff to meet with the dog park committee and see if there was an alternate location which addressed the concerns raised by staff, specifically the proximity to a potential Geotube expansion and the snow pile dump.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader