Port Alberni will get 3 Dog Parks

Link to Alberni Valley Times – May 26, 2011.

Dogs will have a place to roam free

Heather Thomson, Alberni Valley Times

Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pooch lovers in Port Alberni will soon be allowed to let their dogs run free in three city parks.

At Tuesday night’s regular city council meeting, director of parks and recreation for the city Scott Kenny got the go-ahead to designate Spencer Park, Stirling Park and Lower Dry Creek Park as off-leash park areas.

“We have received a number of requests for off-leash parks,” he explained.

The appeal for an off-leash park included a petition with more than 300 signatures; 80% were city residents.

He said, although there are a number of areas that dogs can go off leash within the city limits, a designated area is needed.

Kenny said the three parks are good fits because dog owners already use them and only Spencer Park is unfenced. They also have a lot of room for dogs to run and access to water to cool them off in the summer months.

As an old ball field, Stirling Park is completely fenced and has a gate and parking lot. Dry Creek Park has fencing and a gate along the street side of the property.

The only real expense, he explained, is in the fencing. Kenny estimated the fencing could be done for approximately $8,000.

Other than fencing, the sites will need some signage indicating dogs are allowed off leash and explaining the terms and conditions. Stirling and Dry Creek will need doggie bag dispensers and garbage cans. Funding for these items can be accommodated within the current budget.

Coun. Cindy Solda lives close to Spencer Park and works by Stirling Park, and she said these areas are already frequented on a regular basis by people with dogs. She agreed that it makes sense to make it official. Council voted to support the motion.

Kenny said most of the parks already have garbage cans, and the city would add doggie bag dispensers to help keep the area clean for other users.

Coun. Jack McLeman raised some concerns about whether the official designation would mean the city would be responsible if something happened in the park, such as one dog attacking another.

Kenny said the onus would be on the owner to keep their dogs under control. He said it is unlikely anyone could claim that the city has any responsibility. That would be explained on the signage that is erected in the parks. He pointed out that off-leash parks are common and other cities have had them for many years without any problems.

Kenny said the new designation should be easy and fast to put into place. Mostly, it comes down to putting the proper signage in place and then it is official. He estimated the they would be able to commit to fencing Spencer park by the fall of 2011 when the year end financial projections become clear.

Kenny said Stirling Park is often used as an overflow parking lot during the Salmon Festival, and that shouldn’t be a problem. Dog owners will just have to use one of the other parks during that time.

HThomson@avtimes.net

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