A group of residents have come together for a common cause — an off-leash dog park for their four-legged friends.
The group spoke to the District at its June 26 council meeting, saying the time has come for such a facility. Libby Kirkland spoke on behalf of the group and outlined the many reasons Hope is long overdue for an off-leash dog park. She said that Hope has a growing group of responsible dog owners, and that many B.C. municipalities have parks that cater to responsible dog owners.
Towns of similar size with off-leash areas include Agassiz, Creston, Fernie, Kimberly, Osoyoos, Peachland and Whistler. Some of those communities have more than one dog-friendly park.
Some of Hope’s “unofficial” off-leash areas pose risks as they are, she said, but would make ideal locations if invested in properly by the municipality. Such a facility would be a benefit to travelers and residents, alike, she pointed out. The “unofficial” locations mentioned include the Chevron, Memorial Park, the Rec Centre and C.E. Barry School field.
There are currently about 500 or 600 licenced dogs in the District of Hope, and the Hope Visitor Centre gets regular enquiries about dog park locations. In a recent petition, more than 250 residents and visitors signed in support.
Dogs who get regular, safe exercise are better behaved, and an enclosed park would eliminate several dangers, including being hit by cars, wildlife conflicts, and exposure to dangerous substances.
Kirkland outlined basic requirements for a successful park, including ideal size (one acre or larger), full enclosure, waste disposal, seating, shade, water, and accessibility among them.
She suggested a portion of the Recreation Centre/ Curling Rink park as a potential location.
“Although it’s smaller than the suggested size, it is centrally located and would require minimal effort and expense,” she said. Council was receptive to the idea, she says, and is now directing staff to gather approximate costs to convert the park area there. Mayor Wilfried Vicktor asked staff to have that information ready for the next council meeting, on July 24.
C.E. Barry’s field could also offer a location, since the school has been closed. There would be adjustments to be made at both locations to make them suitable, she noted.
Lastly, she identified the large underutilized parkland at Olson Avenue, as well as a portion of Memorial Park.