Port Moody pups will not be getting another off-leash place to run and play near city hall after all.
Council cancelled a new temporary “pup-up” pilot project, which would have built a temporary fenced-in dog park at the amphitheater behind city hall for eight months.
“This is not anything like I envisioned, and I don’t think we should be spending any money on this,” said Mayor Meghan Lahti.
Lahti originally proposed the idea of a small off-leash dog park without a fence back in May, but staff said a fence would be needed.
The $20,000 price tag to build that temporary fence appeared too big to accept.
The money, which staff recommended taking out of the council contingency fund, would have also been needed to install signage, waste bins and other expenses.
A coordinated review was conducted by staff from multiple departments, identifying five sites near city hall.
The amphitheater was recommended due to considerations around public and pet safety, impacts to wildlife and environmentally sensitive areas and vegetation, noise, accessibility, and impacts to other recreational users and library programming.
Although the park would likely be very popular due to its location, there would be unavoidable effects that would need to be mitigated, according to staff.
Wildlife, such as coyotes and bears, frequently use the area as a corridor, especially during the summer months, staff said.
Another issue came from the parks department, whose staff stated they would be unable to maintain the existing grass that grows in the location, which would deteriorate from use by the dogs.
Soil would become compacted, vegetation growth would be stunted, and dogs would likely dig holes, all of which would require remediation in order to return the site back to regular use.
“Even with a season end in early May it is doubtful the grass fully would return in time for general public use over the summer, staff said.
And all the open areas pitched by staff see heavy use during the warmer months, including use by daycare groups, library programming, recreational day camps, and the occasional wedding.
Without maintaining the visual esthetic, the city could lose booking revenue, staff said.
Consequently, staff said that if any pilot were to go forward, the site would need a fence or natural barrier installed. This was also advised by a risk management advisor.
Bylaw staff stated the city receives a significant amount of complaints every year around the existing off-leash dog area, some of which include dog bites.
They added that without the wall, there would be a high probability of increased conflicts which they would need to follow up on.
“The nature of a dog’s play is to run, chase and boisterously engage with each other,” staff stated. “Even dogs with perfect recall take a second to respond (especially if playing) and this second could have negative results such as being hit by a car, causing a vehicular accident, obstructing bicycles, approaching an on leash reactive dog, dog bite incidents, or generally creating a nuisance for people who do not want to be approached by a dog.”
The pilot project would also have delayed a $50,000 capital project to restore the retaining wall of the amphitheater.
Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch