Vancouver's Mount Pleasant is a 'dog park desert' that needs an off-leash area, pet owners say

·2 min read
May Chao plays with her dog at East Vancouver's Dude Chilling Park. She's among the dog owners advocating for an off-leash area in the neighbourhood. (Emma Djwa/CBC - image credit)
May Chao plays with her dog at East Vancouver's Dude Chilling Park. She's among the dog owners advocating for an off-leash area in the neighbourhood. (Emma Djwa/CBC - image credit)

A group of dog owners in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant area have banded together to lobby for an off-leash park space in their neighbourhood.

"Right now, Mount Pleasant is a dog park desert," said Eugenia Serrano, one of the organizers of the group Dude Chilling Dogs. "There are no dog parks within reasonable walking distance to us."

The City of Vancouver says it aims to offer most residents access to an off-leash dog area within a 15-minute walk.

City maps show Mount Pleasant's closest off-leash areas in a park are at Trout Lake or Hinge Park in the Olympic Village.

"I can't do that [walk] twice a day," said Marty Hallat, a dog owner who lives near Dude Chilling Park and is part of the campaign.

City of Vancouver
City of Vancouver

He says it's frustrating trying to balance his dog's needs while respecting bylaws, risking an infraction every time he lets his pug, Rhino, go off-leash.

"There doesn't seem to be a real solution being proposed here," he said.

The lobby group want to see an off-leash area on the east side of Mount Pleasant. They see Dude Chilling Park as a central location but are open to other parks in the area.

Emma Djwa/CBC
Emma Djwa/CBC

Conflicts over off-leash dogs have been growing in the community.

A parent committee at Mount Pleasant Elementary School put up signs a year ago around the school perimeter asking dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash when using school grounds after ongoing complaints.

"There's already tension in our neighborhood," said Serrano. "We need a solution because it's an immediate problem now and it's only going to get worse once there's more density in our neighborhood."

Underserved area

In 2017, the city's People, Parks, and Dogs strategy identified Mount Pleasant as the most underserved neighbourhood for an off-leash dog area.

Two new off-leash areas are planned but they're in parks west of Cambie Street, meant for residents in western Mount Pleasant, Kitsilano and Fairview, which were also identified as high-need communities.

In an email to CBC News, the Vancouver Park Board says it doesn't have the budget to meet the amount of demand for off-leash areas but hopes to address more of the issue in its capital plan starting 2023.

For dog owners like Hallat, that's little consolation.

He says it's been six years since he moved to Mount Pleasant and been without a nearby dog park for Rhino.

"My dogs live to be 12 to 15, so it's literally been half of his entire life," he said. "How much longer are we going have to wait?"

Until then, Hallat and others says they will focus on raising the issue with people considering running for park board and council seats in the fall.

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