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Dogs to have day in city parks
Richmond City Hall has unveiled a plan for new off-leash areas around the city, two weeks after a report showed one-quarter of dog owners were flouting leash rules on West Dyke.
At a council committee meeting Tuesday, staff presented plans for four new fenced areas where fidos can frolic tether-free: Garden City Community Park, South Arm Community Park, McCallan Neighbourhood Park and a lot on Elmbridge Way.
"With increased growth in Richmond's population, and approximately 5,200 licensed dogs, there has been an increased demand for dog off leash areas where residents can exercise their pets off leash responsibly," said Dee Bowley-Cowan, acting manager of parks programs, in a staff report.
A temporary off-leash area at Dover Park--where feedback from area residents suggested it had limited popularity--would be moved to McCallan Neighbourhood Park, along the Railway corridor, as a one-year pilot project.
The three other new off-leash areas are also considered pilot sites. Fences would go up this summer and be reviewed after a year.
The dog area inside Garden City Community Park would be along Granville Avenue near Ash Street. At South Arm Community Park, the off-leash area is proposed for a 1,400-square-metre site near the tennis courts. The site at 7300 Elmbridge Way is on land once home to a controversial sculpture depicting communist dictators Lenin and Mao, and is next to the ICBC claims centre.
Staff suggest the plan benefits those who own dogs and even those who don't.
"The privilege of being able to access safe and accessible off leash areas is valued by dog owners and also welcomed traditionally by non dog owners as the program provides certainty to the community as to where responsible dog off leash use is permitted," noted Bowley-Cowan.
City council must still approve the plan.
Another off-leash area is planned for City Centre in the future Capstan Village Park. It's scheduled to open in summer 2015.
After the city revealed plans for stronger enforcement of leash laws this summer, dog walkers told The Review the city was lagging behind in providing off-leash areas.
"Richmond desperately needs more off-leash dog trails and not just areas to hang out,” said Jezebel Erding of Woofer Walkers Dog Walking Services. “Dog owners, professional dog walkers and dogs all want to go for a decent walk, and not just in some square enclosed off-leash space. Those are all the reasons why there are dogs off leash on the dyke.”