Delta council has agreed with a staff recommendation 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.
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 continued to raise 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 path.
“Some dog owners have been very aggressive towards the school community on occasions and many people 'extend' the off-leash area to around the school area and paths further endangering children's safety,” said the letter from the PAC. “The school has also been dealing with dog feces on both school grounds, pathways and when children use the woods by the dog park for forest learning. Our children recognize the importance of protecting the delicate ecosystems remaining in B.C. and value being able to access the woodland.”
Noting it is not a new issue, the parent advisory council also listed a series of incidents highlighting their concerns.
“Many parents at Beach Grove have expressed concern about the dog park and lack of barriers and lack of monitoring and patrolling of this park to make sure dog owners are complying. Many fear coming forward as they don't want to face repercussions from neighbours or other parents that are dog park users,” according to the PAC.
A report to council notes 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.
“The mixed-use challenges in the park have grown since the establishment of the off-leash designation. Increased use of the park by the community, the natural areas within the park that provide habitat, the community StoryWalk located adjacent to the trail system and the proximity to both the park playground and school playground result in a great deal of interaction in and around the park by residents. Further, the adjacent school field use is permitted to community sports organizations, causing off-leash activities on the field to impact both the school and community use,” the report explained.
The northeast section of Grauer Park has an open, passive park space which could be designated as an off-leash area, as well as ample fencing separating other uses.
During council’s discussion on April 11, Coun. Lois Jackson expressed concern that perhaps too large of areas in parks are used for off-leash dogs, saying parks should be for people.
Saying they want to see what the community has to say about the relocation, Coun. Dylan Kruger said he’s heard many times that the city needs to ramp up creating more enclosed areas for dogs.
Delta’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission is currently looking to complete two new off-leash dog enclosures at Pebble Hill Park and Paterson Park.