Local municipal councils seem, perhaps understandably, reluctant to get involved with dog parks
Wellington North council indicated at its July 12 meeting that such a facility is not a current priority, although a dog park was identified as a recommendation in the township’s 2018 recreation master plan.
Township staff predict dog parks might be possible down the road, perhaps by 2025 in Mount Forest and 2026 in Arthur, and council did direct to staff to prepare a report on possible locations and on forming a committee to help with planning.
In Mapleton, the idea has twice been rejected by township council in the past year.
Some councillors stated their opposition in strong terms.
“Dog parks are not desirable in any way, shape or form close to a residential section of town,” stated councillor Michael Martin at the May 11 Mapleton council meeting, where a proposal from the local Kinette club to partner with the township on creation of a dog park was turned down for the second time.
“If you’re going to have a dog in town, you’re going to have to learn to walk it, or hire somebody young to walk it,” stated councillor Dennis Craven at the same meeting.
When the idea was first raised in Mapleton in January, Mayor Gregg Davidson went so far as to suggest dog owners “don’t need a park,” because, “They can take them to a country road and let them go if they want.”
Which more or less illustrates the problem, namely that many dog breeds require more exercise than can be generated even by a regular and vigorous walking schedule.
Dog ownership has been on the rise in local communities for some time (Minto passed a bylaw several years ago allowing families to have as many as three dogs before kennel restrictions kick in) and the well-documented surge in pandemic puppies (and prices) since March of 2020 suggests the local canine population is likely larger than anyone suspects.
Dog parks aren’t just for dogs. They provide recreation and social connection for pet owners as well and dog parks, while surprisingly pricey according to projections provided, still cost only a tiny fraction of what municipalities spend on arenas, ball diamonds, soccer pitches and the like.
It’s true that not every community needs a dog park and many have unofficial areas where Rover can roam without issue. But it’s not a concept that should, in the year 2021, be dismissed by local councils out of hand.