Saint-Léonard residents petition against 'antiquated' dog ban in parks

·3 min read
Nancy Rebelo said she doesn't understand why she isn't allowed to walk Boston Terrier Vienna at the parks near her Saint-Léonard home.  (CBC/Valeria Cori-Manocchio - image credit)
Nancy Rebelo said she doesn't understand why she isn't allowed to walk Boston Terrier Vienna at the parks near her Saint-Léonard home. (CBC/Valeria Cori-Manocchio - image credit)

When Nancy Rebelo moved to Saint-Léonard in 2007 she was surprised to learn dogs weren't allowed in parks, even with leashes on, but she figured it was only a matter of time before the antiquated bylaw would be done away with.

Fifteen years later, she's not so sure.

"This question comes up all the time at our council meetings," she said. It's also a recurring debate at each municipal election.

She'd like to be able to bring her Boston Terrier Vienna to the two parks near her home but can only walk her on the surrounding sidewalks.

"It's a little bit ridiculous," she said. "I think these laws were put in place a very long time ago when there were few dogs, when people were fearful of dogs — but certainly in the last couple decades we've seen people really adopt dogs as parts of their family."

An online petition to allow leashed dogs in parks has gained more than 1,700 signatures since being launched last week.

"When I want my dog to have a little bit of green space and to enjoy a long walk, and my kids want to play at a park, and we all want to kind of go out together, then we leave the borough, we go elsewhere," Rebelo said.

Former city councillor Rosannie Filato launched the petition to get rid of the rule.

"It's completely absurd that citizens in Saint-Léonard have to take their cars, drive out to Anjou, drive out to Rivière-des-Prairies, drive out to Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, to walk their dog in a park," said Filato.

She says Saint-Léonard is the only borough of Montreal that has a ban on dogs in parks, even if they are on a leash.

Consultations coming

Luckily for dog owners, it seems officials are up for a change. Saint-Léonard's mayor and some of the borough's councillors recently showed their support for a motion at city hall that would allow dog owners to bring their pets on public transit, Filto said.

"If our city councillors evolved on the issue of having dogs on leashes in Metros, we figured it would be a good time for them to be allowed in parks as well," she said.

Consultations on the question will be held within the coming weeks as well, a spokesperson for the borough said.

"As we have already committed to do, we are also continuing our efforts to develop other dog parks in other sectors of the borough," wrote Richard Caron, a spokesperson for the city council.

Saint-Léonard Mayor Michel Bissonnet and other elected officials declined interview requests.

CBC/Valeria Cori-Manocchio
CBC/Valeria Cori-Manocchio

The ban dates back to the mid-80s, Caron said.

"Since then, the status quo has always been maintained, but the new council, which was elected last November and which includes three new councillors, is willing to address the issue," he said.

The borough currently has two dog parks, but they aren't very popular among dog owners.

"They're in old parking lots. It's extremely hot in there for the owners and for the dogs," Filato said.

More dog parks would be a plus, but that isn't a solution for everyone, said Rebelo. Her dog Vienna can get spooked around other dogs.

"She's certainly not a threat to anyone," Rebelo said. "The most she'll do is give you a tonne of kisses."

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