The City of Delta is backing down from a plan to relocate an off-leash dog area from a Tsawwassen park despite concerns from an adjoining school and parents.
Council at its May 16 meeting agreed to hold off on its earlier approval to undertake community consultation on the design of a new enclosed off-leash dog area at Grauer Park to replace the existing off-leash area at Beach Grove Park.
After complaints from dog owners, Mayor George Harvie and Coun. Dylan Kruger said the option of relocating the off-leash area to another park should be removed by council altogether.
A new plan by staff was then to come forward to the Parks Recreation and Culture Commission.
In 2011, a western portion of Beach Grove Park, next to the Beach Grove Elementary playground, was designated as an off-leash area.
A number of concerns, including the safety of children, were raised in recent years about the proximity to the school and a lack of barriers.
The boundaries of the leash-optional area were subsequently revised and a fence and gate were installed between the off-leash area and the playground.
However, late last year parents raised more concerns.
In a letter last month to the city, the Beach Grove Parent Advisory Council (PAC) noted the off-leash area has created continual concerns with dogs entering school grounds and creating an unsafe environment for kids using the only available path to walk to school, since there is no barrier between the dog park and the path.
A report to council noted staff reviewed options to provide a full enclosure of the off-leash area and found a number of challenges, most notably the negative impact to natural areas, which would see required space cleared to install a perimeter fence.
The possibility of creating a full enclosure within the existing trails was also examined, however staff noted that would not eliminate problems when it came to the adjacent park.
A new report to the commission recommended that community consultation take place for the creation of an off-leash enclosure and adjustment of the designated off-leash boundary at Beach Grove Park.
That report notes that while fencing exists between the current off-leash area of the park and the playground, the current fencing terminates where the understory of the urban forest portion of the park begins. Dogs can still get through the understory and access the playground area.
Staff have designed a large enclosure the details of which will be shared with residents for comment.