Dog park plans proceeding but ever so slowly

·4 min read

Eganville – Plans are proceeding for a dog park in the village but following a COVID-induced slow down as well as the need for substantial fundraising dollars before the township offers in-kind services, it may take a bit longer for the wish of many dog owners to be realized.

“The township has to be somewhat limited,” Bonnechere Valley Councillor Brent Patrick said, noting the fundraising for the estimated $16,000 in costs must be done by community members. “We also have a ball field that needs loving and tennis courts that need loving. It is people vs. dogs is how I look at it.”

Heather Park-Wheeler and Kevin Detto were at Bonnechere Valley council last Tuesday via a ZOOM link asking for a timeline on the construction of an off-leash dog park in the village. This concept has been on the wish list of many dog owners for some time and plans had been outlined prior to the pandemic to have a park constructed on John Street near the Geotube facility. Ms. Park-Wheeler said she was hoping council had a plan in place and the park would be proceeding.

“We would like to ask for a written timetable so we have clear objectives,” she added, noting the first phase would be to clear the trees and get the land graded.

Volunteers are eager to do fundraising but want a clear definition of what is expected from the group, she said.

Mayor Jennifer Murphy said she is a fan of off-leash dog parks and is supportive but said fundraising is important for this to proceed and asked if there is a fundraising group in place.

Ms. Park-Wheeler said there are about 15 volunteers interested and Mr. Detto has more people in place as well as ideas through his background in marketing.

“We are eager to go if we have an idea of what amount we need to raise and by what date,” she said.

Mr. Detto said since moving to the village last fall he has been walking his dogs and gotten to know people that way. Many are interested in the dog park.

“Everyone I have met is because I walk my dogs for hours,” he said.

There are a lot of fundraising ideas and he said he wanted to bring his background in sales and marketing to this fundraising effort.

“We’ve discussed how to get involved with local businesses to make sure it is a win-win for everyone,” he added.

Ms. Park-Wheeler was quick to point out the idea is not to ask local businesses for money, but they could have the option of having something similar to a coupon book to offer discounts for local businesses. That way a business could use a particular incentive to bring people to their store and the booklet would be a fundraiser for the dog park initiative.

“I am protective of our businesses for sure,” she said.

Councillor Merv Buckwald cautioned there were many pressures on staff in the spring and half loads are also an issue for any work the municipality might do. He also added the group might investigate fundraising options like having people give the money from their “empties” at the beer store towards the dog park in a fundraising jar.

“Yes, there are lots of good ideas,” Ms. Park-Wheeler agreed. “We want to have some fun with this.”

Councillor Tim Schison asked about the rough proposal for the park and what the fundraising need would be.

“I thought the fundraising effort was going to be about $16,000 and we would have some skin in the game with labour with our roads crew,” the mayor said.

Ms. Park-Wheeler said she thought the amount was $10,000. As well, she pointed out there is an account set up for fundraising already.

Coun. Patrick said when the issue was first discussed it was $10,000 in fundraising and $10,000 in-kind from the municipal staff but with COVID prices have gone up. The expenses include a fence for the area.

“Either way, the township is going to inherit costs with this,” he added, saying there would be inspection costs and liability costs. “The higher amount we can fundraise, it will not go to waste.”

It is important for the dog park to be both safe and sanitary, he said.

“The fundraising is not going to stop,” Ms. Park-Wheeler said. “The support for this is not going to stop.”

Coun. Schison said he would like to see the fundraising in place before construction begins.

“I’m not willing to commit until I see a good substantial amount of money,” he said. “I don’t want to put any burden on any of the residents.”

Mr. Detto asked if there could be other fencing options looked at which might affect the cost. He also said the project could be done in stages which could help with the cost.

Coun. Patrick suggested council look at the issue again to see what the costs are and the plans and then decide how to proceed.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader