North Bonson Park off-leash dog area was empty recently. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

Off-leash dog parks remain open in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Teams of monitors will be making sure people are physical distancing

Dog parks have remained open in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and will stay open as long as users are able to maintain safe distances from one another.

Teams of park monitors have been assembled in both communities to make sure people are abiding by the orders and directives being set out by the provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

This despite the closure of park play areas and washrooms at parks.

The City of Chilliwack temporarily closed all dog parks to stop groups of people from congregating. The city’s mayor, Ken Popove, explained that it’s difficult to maintian physical distancing in these spaces. He suggested taking dogs for a walk around the neighbourhood instead.

The new task forces will be monitoring all of the parks in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, not just the dog parks.

“We have absolutely bolstered our bylaws team and it is now composed of bylaws and parks and recreation and they are pro-actively monitoring different sites,” said Carolyn Baldridge with the City of Pitt Meadows.

Their focus will be on education, she said.

READ MORE: More information needed after dog’s weak positive COVID-19 test result

So far, Baldridge said, there have been no issues or complaints, yet, about either of the two parks in the city: Hoffman Park nor North Bonson Park.

In addition to the park monitors, the city is constantly pushing out messaging about physical distancing, added Baldridge.

And she is encouraging anyone who observes others who are not physically distancing adequately to report it to bylaws.

At the five dog parks in the City of Maple Ridge signs have been posted to remind people about physical distancing and how to be safe during this pandemic.

READ: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

“They will continue to be open as long as members of the public are respecting the need for physical distance,” said Valoree Richmond with the City of Maple Ridge.

They have labelled their new team, made up of recreation and community engagement staff, as Parks Ambassadors who will approach people not obeying the rules, at a safe distance, and educate them.

If the park users still choose not to comply then,” we can escalate the response to our colleagues in Bylaws who have been given authority to enforce the provincial health orders relating to COVID-19,” explained director of recreation and community engagement with the City of Maple Ridge Danielle Pope.

To date, though, they have been getting a good response to the program, said Pope.

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