Central Park – Leash free times for dogs

Leash Free at Burlington's Central ParkThank you to everyone who has shared your thoughts with me about a potential pilot project for leash free times for dogs in Central Park. I’ve now heard from over 100 people by e-mail, phone, Facebook and Twitter providing input into whether or not you support a leash free time. I thought you’d be interested to hear what others are saying so I’ve compiled the comments without reference to any names to protect privacy.

In addition, more than 50 residents attended the June 19 public meeting on leash free times. Most of the people at that meeting were supportive of proceeding with the pilot project. A summary of the meeting and a copy of the presentation are available below.

Leashfree Presentation
To summarize all of the feedback:

  • There is both support and concern in the community for leash free times.
  • Key points of concern include:
    • Safety of other park users from dogs off leash; some seniors and children have reported being charged, knocked over or bitten
    • Fouling of the park by dogs off leash, whose owners are some distance away and don’t clean up
    • Some dog owners don’t respect the leash-required bylaw now; will they respect the leash free times?
  • There are some areas of consensus that emerged. If a pilot proceeds, residents have said:
    • the activity would need to be restricted to a certain area of the park. The location that most felt agreeable to was the wooded area behind the Rotary Youth Centre on Guelph line, and the adjacent fields;
    • the leash free times would vary by season and park use so as not to conflict with summer activities. The times could be extended in winter months when there are not other users on the fields;
    • there would need to be an evaluation and review process and criteria set, so there is opportunity to modify or remove the leash free times if it is not serving the community’s needs;
    • fines could be increased for leash-free activity in non leash-free times repeat offenders given escalating fines, and/or have their dog license revoked;
    • there would be a maximum number of leash free dogs any individual person could walk at any one time (suggestion: 2 per person maximum).

This is still an ongoing discussion. In terms of next steps, staff are continuing research into the practices in other communities. Staff will be writing a report that will come to the Community Services Committee (tentatively scheduled for November 14, 2012) that will provide a recommendation to either proceed or not with a pilot project for leash free times, as well as include conditions for a pilot if it proceeds.

Residents can attend and register to speak at that meeting by contacting the clerks department by noon the day of the meeting online here or by phone at 905-335-7600, x 7492. Any recommendation from the Community Services Committee would need to be ratified by City Council, about two weeks later. Residents can attend and speak at that meeting also.

If you have further questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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