Dog Park Debate Makes a Comeback With Notice of Motion

Back in February, a big rake out concerning leash-free, fenced in dog parks in the city was called off when a Committee of the Whole motion to eliminate the amenity at Peter Misersky Park, and cancel all further projects, was found out of order. But the debate is back on the radar with a Notice of Motion coming forward at Monday’s council meeting.

Included in the amended agenda for Monday’s planning meeting of city council is a Notice of Motion from Councillor June Hofland. The recommendation asks that the dog parks at Peter Misersky and Bristol Street Parks be closed until the staff can report on the feasibility of a fenced in park in a non-residential area can be reported in the 2021 budget.

“With the arrival of COVID-19,it is essential that we reconsider these small fenced areas where people can gather to exercise their dogs to a larger area leash free area that will,in the future, accommodate physical distancing,” the notice reads.

The Notice of Motion is similar in wording to the motion that came out of the February 3 committee meeting, which opted to close the Peter Misersky dog park, halt all plans to begin construction on the Bristol Street park, and look at alternative locations for facilities in a “non-residential area.” At the February 24 council meeting, there were 27 delegations ready to speak on the motion before final approval, but Mayor Cam Guthrie, in his role as chair, ruled that the motion was out of order before any debate could begin.

Guthrie’s ruling was challenged, but council voted 9-4 to support the mayor’s call.

In terms of the risks from COVID, the Peter Misersky dog park has been closed since the start of the pandemic in March, and has remained closed even though they were allowed to re-open with Stage 2 of Ontario’s re-opening plan in June. That same month, it was announced that the City was proceeding with construction on the Bristol Street park in July, and that the opening date for both dog parks will be set once construction is complete. So far, no re-opening announcement’s been made.

“There is no requirement for the municipality to alter the design of the current off-leash dog park facilities – similar to the entrances to locations like libraries, municipal facilities, shopping centres and other retail locations, it is up to the individual resident to be mindful of sanitizing their hands after touching high contact surfaces like door handles and gate latches. Likewise, it is also up to everyone to maintain physical distancing,” Guthrie said on his blog last month.

There will be no final vote on the Hofland motion on Monday, it is just announcement.

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