Residents have raised concerns about the new dog park being built at Heritage Park in The Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM).
The construction of the park follows a petition to include a dog park in the 2021 budget, and a public survey in which 170 out of 316 respondents voted for the park’s current site.
Resident concerns generally opposed the amount of space the dog park occupies in the broader park, which is located at 118 Kandahar Lane in Craigleith.
“I'm just trying to find a happy ground for everybody to have a dog park there, but also have green space that allows everybody's use,” said Sheryl Rubinoff in a deputation to council.
Residents said the current layout will make it difficult for other forms of recreation to take place, noting that the existing baseball diamond will likely have to go.
“Seeing the fence posts up, it’s clear that the current footprint of the dog park is really going to negatively impact those who enjoy the park without a dog,” said Dominic Cacciatore in a statement to council.
“I think it would be great if we could find a compromise for the park that allows the dog park to proceed with a smaller footprint while retaining some of the free green space for other residents,” Cacciatore wrote.
Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM, estimated that the dog park will occupy 65 to 70 per cent of Heritage Park’s space.
One statement to council suggested shifting the dog park to the north side of the park’s property to help preserve existing recreation space.
“If [the park] was moved to the north by 45-50 feet, closer to the property line, and encompass the rolling hills and trees, would be helpful, as that area would otherwise be useless for any other use,” wrote Sharon Munslow.
Several residents submitted statements in favour of the current park to council.
“I wanted to reiterate and emphasize how important I believe it is that the project proceed,” wrote Kaye Murray. “There is broad support for the dog park at this location from the community adjacent to the park.”
“We believe the dog park will be used extensively by many in and around the neighbourhood,” wrote Heather MacNaughton. “Although it looks like the baseball diamond will have to go … [it] was under-utilized and part of the reason was that it was not graded so [it] gets very wet there and does not dry quickly.”
The park is currently scheduled for completion by Nov. 30, with fence posts already installed when residents’ concerns were tabled at the Nov. 1 council meeting.
Councillor Rob Sampson suggested the town talk with residents about their concerns and attempt to address them.
“We're not going to please everybody here, there’s no question about that,” he said. “But is there a chance to have a bit of a [discussion] with residents ... to see whether there is something that can be done within the terms and price of the contract, to alleviate some of the concerns?”
Gibbons stated that further public consultation could be done, but that it would delay the completion of the project.
“If we do take this time, we may not get the project completed this fall,” he said. We can do that, but I just really want to highlight that as we go through that process, it’s quite likely that we wouldn't finish the project until next spring.”
Gibbons also noted that most of the money allocated for the project has already been used towards the current design.
“I believe this was at or maybe just below the budgeted amount, so there wouldn't be a lot of contingency available to make any significant modifications,” he said.
“I can't imagine that we’ll be able to move forward with changes without any additional cost.”
Council moved to refer the residents’ statements to community services for further consideration.
The town announced last month that construction was beginning on the park on Oct. 25 and was expected to be completed by Nov. 30.
Greg McGrath-Goudie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca