Association delighted to learn town looking at off-leash park
© Bonnie Learning
Monica Surina, chair of the Lake Melville Dog Park Association, was delighted to learn the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is looking at several locations for the area's first off-leash dog park. A survey is currently online on the town's Facebook page for citizens to look at the proposed areas, including Kelland Drive, where Surina and her dog, “Honey,” hope it can be located.
It was an unexpected — but good — surprise for Monica Surina on Monday, May 12 when she checked out the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay's Facebook page.
“I was blown away, shocked and ecstatic,” said Surina, chair of the Lake Melville Dog Park Association.
“I honestly thought this would never happen.”
For five years, the association has been trying to implement plans for the area's first off-leash dog park, but had gotten nowhere.
But that all changed on May 12, when the town posted information on its Facebook page about plans to seriously look into developing a dog park, in conjunction with a local organization such as the Lake Melville Dog Park Association. The information includes the criteria for such a park, as well as a possibility of eight different locations.
Surina said this is a complete reversal from the association's past dealings with the past town council.
“Back in 2009, we developed a proposal to submit to the (former) town council, attended council meetings, met with council several times to try to get this on the go,” recalled Surina.
“They gave us three options at the time for locations, which were the old boat club road, Mud Lake Road and Corte Real Road,”
Surina noted none of those options where viable in the association's opinion, due to the distance many residents would have to drive just to walk and exercise their dog.
“Our suggestion was the old ball field in Spruce Park, so the town sent out a survey to Spruce Park residents and unfortunately, the feedback was very negative, with concerns cited about noise, dogs getting out of the enclosed area, etc., so that was off the table.”
Surina said after months of back and forth, the former council came up with the old snowmobile racing track area behind Trapper's, a local bar.
“We could tell the council, at that time, were not keen on a dog park; the location was not lit, had no proper road leading to it, and they told us should they require the land for another use in the future, they could take it back. So why would we spend thousands of dollars on building a dog park when the land could be taken back at any point?”
At this point it was early 2010, and Surina said the plans to start an off-leash park were put on the shelf, as the association was dejected after getting nowhere with the former council.
Which is why, she said, it was such a pleasant surprise to see the information from the current council come to light.
“Just two months ago, we were actually planning on going to the council to present our proposal again to try to get the dog park on the go ... it is so nice to see a progressive, forward-thinking council that sees the value in something like this.”
Mayor Jamie Snook said, as a council, they have been aware of the interest in the community for a dog park.
“We have been going about doing our homework on this, and our town planner has done her due diligence, which resulted in the public consultation (planned for May 20 at the town hall at 6:30 p.m.),” said Snook.
“We would love to see a new dog park in the area.”
Surina noted of the eight locations proposed by the town (which can be viewed at “Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay Information Site” on Facebook), the association's top choice would be the Kelland Drive area, as there is no housing nearby.
“Past experience tells us this is something people want, but not in their backyard,” she said. “This location would be perfect.”
She also added some people might wonder, with so much wilderness around, there would be a need for an off-leash park.
“There are a lot of people concerned about taking their dog into the woods or near wooded areas, due to concerns about wild animals, traps and snares and so on,” said Surina.
“An enclosed, off-leash park would provide a safe environment for those who are not comfortable taking their dogs off leash in or near the woods.”
Surina notes it’s very important for the general public to visit the town's Facebook site to view the information and especially important to take two minutes to complete a quick survey on the proposed park and locations.
“The more input the town gets that this something that is needed and wanted, the better chance this has of going forward.”
Surina is also calling on those interested in a dog park to attend the public information session.