Town wants to follow through process in set-up of first dog park
© Bonnies Learning/special to The Labradorian
Shaun MacLean, director of community services and recreation for the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, outlines some information for those attending a public information session at the town office boardroom on May 20.
Some very productive discussion relating to the proposed establishment of a dog park took place at a public information session hosted May 20 by the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
“I have two dogs and I would like to see (a dog park) as much as any dog owner,” said Shaun MacLean, director of community services and recreation for the town. “But as a town employee, we also want to ensure we follow a process and do this right.”
Approximately a dozen people turned out for the two-hour session, including private citizens, members of a local Dog Park Association, town staff and council members.
The town's information session was held as a follow-up to a posting on its Facebook page earlier this month, outlining criteria — and several possible locations — for the community's first ever off-leash dog park.
“I think Shaw Field (one of the proposed locations) would be a great temporary location until something permanent is established,” suggested resident Barb Wilkinson, who already uses the location (“unofficially,” she says) for her Beagle Paws rescue, Clancy.
“It would give the town a chance to iron out any kinks or concerns.”
Wilkinson added the field is no longer used for anything, other than undesirable behaviour.
“There is never anyone there, except at night, drinking,” she said, adding there is always broken glass littered around the field.
“I can hear them all the time from where I live.”
She further added there is already a parking area and room for expansion should it be used as a permanent location.
Ashley Taylor — who recently moved back to Happy Valley-Goose Bay after living in Ontario for a period of time — said the discussion about a dog park is very positive. She also had some personal experience to share.
“I used to live in Kingston and used one of the three dog parks on a daily basis,” she said. “You would register your dogs with the city, and part of the fee would help the city with maintenance, garbage pick-up, etc, for the park.”
She noted the park users also took the initiative to make sure park rules and regulations were being followed.
“It was just a matter of dog park etiquette,” she said. “I am just waiting for a dog park here. I have two high-energy dogs, and they need lots of exercise and socialization.”
MacLean gave much credit to the work done so far on the proposed park to the council, as well as town planner Ilene Watson-Grant.
“Kudos to everyone for moving this agenda forward,” he said. “Once all feedback is received and reviewed, the next step will be to determine whether to develop it; choose the location; approve the location; and develop the park.”
MacLean noted the recent, informal survey the town developed and posted to its Facebook site was a good indicator that they are moving in the right direction.
“We can't put much weight behind the survey, for the simple fact we couldn't control the access to the survey,” he said. “However, 111 respondents agreed the criteria was OK, so I would say that's a good indication we've started off right.”
While there was also much discussion about other, more intricate details of a dog park — such as hours of operation, maintenance, “friendly” policing of the grounds, memberships and more — there is no set timeline as of yet as to when a dog park will be established.
“We are very keen on making this happen, but also making it right,” MacLean reiterated.
Mayor Jamie Snook agreed.
“We're on the right track; this community would be served well with a dog park.”
The deadline for comments from the public regarding the proposed dog park is May 30. Submissions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; or via post to P.O. Box 40, Stn. B, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, A0P 1E0; or dropped off to the town office at 212 Hamilton River Road to the attention of the director of community services and recreation.
To view the draft criteria and locations, visit www.happyvalley-goosebay.com or the town's Facebook site: “Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay Information Site.”