Petition signers demand safer access to Conroy Pit park

·2 min read

Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling on the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the City of Ottawa to fix chronic safety issues around access to one of the city's largest off-leash dog parks.

The petition signers say the number of parking spaces — 32, according to the NCC — that grant access to nearly 100 hectares of Conroy Pit parkland aren't nearly enough. The limited space forces people to park on the side of Conroy Road and make their way along a narrow gravel shoulder with their dogs and children.

"It's absolutely terrifying to walk along there," said Elise Schissler, one of the people behind the petition. "You end up walking on the pavement and trying not to have your dog take two steps in the wrong direction [as] speeding cars are going by."

The petition asks for the size of the parking lot to be increased, for the speed limit on Conroy Road near the park's entrance to be cut from 70 km/h to 40 km/h, and for speed bumps to be installed and signs put up that warn drivers about pedestrians.

Up to 100 cars end up parked on both sides of the road when the park is busy, according to the petition. As of Dec. 18, more than 1,600 people had signed it.

Matthew Kupfer/CBC
Matthew Kupfer/CBC

Catch-22, says councillor

But lowering the speed limit and installing speed bumps aren't solutions, said Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans.

That's because Conroy Road is an arterial roadway and carries large volumes of traffic, Deans said, rather than a residential street.

"[The city] wouldn't agree to lowering the speed to 40 km/h there, and it wouldn't even be safe to do so," she said.

As for the parking lot, it's not completely clear who's responsible for expanding it.

Conroy Pit park is owned by the NCC, but in a 2012 agreement, the city took over its maintenance. When safety concerns were raised the following year, Deans said she tried to get the NCC to expand the lot — and the commission agreed, as long as the city paid.

The city offered some nominal funds, Deans said, but it wasn't nearly enough to cover the cost.

"Nor did the city believe it was their job to upgrade the facility," said Deans. "So, that's the kind of the catch-22 we're in."

The NCC has confirmed it currently is in talks with the City of Ottawa on the issue.