NORTH PERTH – The long-anticipated dog park in Listowel may not have a location yet, but on July 5, council adopted, in principle, a set of guidelines that could bring the park to fruition.
At the March 15 council meeting, a resolution was made asking staff to bring back more information regarding guidelines for the development of a dog park in North Perth.
On July 5, a report came back to council listing a 10-step plan to bring the dog park to town.
Also in the report were plans for clear signage telling owners they are responsible for picking up all dog waste and disposing of it in designated receptacles. The signs will remind owners to “clean up after your dog... every time.”
Additional signs with set fines for not removing dog excrement or not having a dog properly licenced will also be on display in the park.
The establishment of a dog park in Listowel will be dependent on community involvement, so work is being done to form a dog park group. Since the council meeting in March, some members of the public have reached out to express interest in being involved in the development of a dog park.
“Staff checked with neighbouring municipalities to seek information about bylaw enforcement challenges that may have happened with dog parks and there was little to none,” said Jeff Newell, manager of facilities.
“The feeling is that if you do have an active dog volunteer group that would steward the facility and enforce rules that would make it so that typically a bylaw would not be called in incidents because they would be managed by the community group.”
Lighting needs will be evaluated when a park location has been selected. The option of using solar lighting is being considered and hours of operation will depend on sufficient lighting availability.
Coun. Terry Seiler said he has never seen a dog park with lighting.
“It’s a big expense to have the lighting and maybe we should look at running the hours around without having lighting,” he said. “I know that I’ve seen the one in Owen Sound… People have their hours set and work around lighting because the lighting is going to create a big bill.”
Newell said lighting will depend on the location.
“There may be ambient lighting,” he said. “There may be an opportunity for solar panel lighting as well… We could certainly look at adjusting the hours to make sure that it’s suitable, whether that be a dawn til dusk type of rule or something along that lines, although in winter months dusk comes awful early.”
Coun. Lee Anne Andriessen said she thought money had been already raised and she suggested it be tracked down for the group to access.
“I’m in support of this,” she said. “I know that I’ve seen some community feedback out there and other communities have facilities like this and actually in reading the report… the majority of the bylaw complaints were around dogs. So my hope would be that this… outdoor facility could help with dogs… be more settled in our community once they have this type of opportunity to be more exercised.”
The 10-step program is already in motion guiding the community towards the opening of the dog park and helping to maintain it for pets to enjoy far into the future.
Step 1: Council adopted guidelines for developing a dog park in North Perth on July 5.
Step 2: Guidelines were posted on the municipal website on July 12, including an application for residents to form a dog park group.
Step 3: Interested community members come together to form a dog park group.
Step 4: Dog park group works with municipal staff on finding a location.
Step 5: Council approves the location of the dog park and design.
Step 6: Dog park group will be responsible for fundraising for park development.
Step 7: Once funds obtained, council considers approval for the development of the dog park.
Step 8: Park is developed.
Step 9: Dog dark opens; dog park group provides education to the public on safe dog park use; municipal staff provide grounds maintenance.
Step 10: Ongoing communication between the dog park group and municipal parks staff; any future maintenance or repair costs to be fundraised by the dog park group.
Under the adopted guidelines, the development of a dog park in the Municipality of North Perth is to be a community-driven project. The community-driven nature of this project is supported by the experience of many other municipalities, where the success of such an area is dependent upon a designated group of community volunteers who use the facility and are willing to share in ongoing responsibility for the operations and maintenance of the facilities.
North Perth staff will facilitate the initiation of the community group. Anyone interested in being part of this group or learning more about the expectations of the group, please contact Newell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“One of the additional notes is that even with a good policy and clearly outlined responsibilities, this is, after all, a community group and membership will change,” said Newell.
“You are going to have some members that are very active and others that will fall off over time. There is a concern of continuity if the group dissolves and even more concern if the dog park is to be a municipal facility.”
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner