Jordan Petrini

More barking about dog parks

City taking feedback on three trial off-leash areas.

Brian Petrini wants Volker dog park back, and said the Westview replacement is a pale imitation.

The area resident, and owner of a 15-month-old Doberman Pinscher, would take his dog to the Volker off-leash park for a run on a regular basis. It was close enough for his 14-year-old son to walk there, and Petrini liked that the boy was getting off the computer.

There were always people there with their dogs, so it was a socializing time for pets and owners.

Petrini said the new park at Westview is smaller – with no room to throw a ball for a dog inside the area cordoned off with orange snow fence.

The park was only recently designed for mountain biking, with jumps and obstacles, so the cyclists and dog owners are being crammed into a comparatively small space.

“It can’t work. It’s ridiculous and unfeasible,” is his frank assessment.

When he heard in spring that the Volker dog park would be closed, he told his son Jordan that he would teach him a lesson in civics, and joined the group to save it. But despite a petition and their determined lobby of city hall, the park closed on June 10.

By comparison, he drives by the Westview park, and said nobody is ever there.

“It’s a graveyard.”

Actually, he concedes, his son took the dog there on Thursday, and there was one other user.

Volker was always busy. In some ways, it was a victim of its own success. Petrini thinks city hall botched the issue. Complaints by neighbours at Volker Park may have been valid – they had video evidence to back up their complaints of noise in the early morning and late at night.

But Petrini said if Volker had been open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., as the new Westview park is, rather than from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., then neighbours may have found it less intrusive.

“Nobody needs to run their dog, really, at the dog park, at 6 a.m.” he said.

The dog owner pays an $80 per year licensing fee for his Doberman, and believes this council is obliged to replace the asset that Volker had been to him and other pet owners.

City hall is collecting feedback like Petrini’s, as it tests three dog park locations.

City communications manager Fred Armstrong explained that dog parks at Westview, Tolmie  and Upper Maple Ridge parks are all temporary. City staff will examine their options, collect feedback from park users, and bring the issue back to the parks and recreation commission.

The Dog Days of Summer initiative is happening this month. The Tolmie Park trial was from Sept. 6-11, Westview from Sept. 13-18 and Upper Maple Ridge from Sept. 20-26.

Armstrong said the city is receiving “quite a bit of feedback.” The Hammond Neighbours website, in particular, offered a good dialogue about the Tolmie Park. The detailed discussion included hours of operation and potential layouts, rather than just general support or opposition to a dog park there.

He said parks staff recognize people want space to exercise their dogs, and local sports teams want to keep dog droppings off their facilities.

Petrini and other Volker Dog Park “refugees” would prefer to get their old facility back, but that is not among the options being considered at city hall.

• The dog park survey can be found at http://mrpmparksandleisure.ca/123/Dog-Off-Leash-Parks.

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