KAMLOOPS - The Rivers Trail runs from one end of the city to the other but people walking their dogs are forced to deviate from the trail once they hit McArthur Island because of a no dogs allowed bylaw at the park.
City of Kamloops staff are hoping to change that in 2015, but there is some concern people will still be bringing their dogs into prohibited parts of the park. City Parks Supervisor Sean Cook says the idea came out of user input while the city reworked the parks master plan.
“We’re listening to the those inputs from the public,” he says, noting, “Dogs won’t be able to roam free.”
Staff will ask council to allow dogs on the Rivers Trail from the pedestrian bridge near the butterfly garden on the north end, to the entrance by the xeriscape garden on the east end of the park.
Cook says he would like to see the trial opened on a trial basis to start, but even then it will have to go before council because it requires a bylaw revision.
While Cook understands connecting the Rivers Trail portion at McArthur Island Park, he says obvious safety and sanitary issues means he does not want to see dogs allowed in the rest of the park, especially the sports fields.
“We have four dog parks, Kenna is essentially off-leash, Juniper is getting a dog park. We’re constantly improving access,” he says. “But people don’t want to see dogs in youth sports facilities. The public has been pretty loud and clear on that.”
Though Cook says the public has been clear, Kamloops Broncos President Dino Bernardo says many people actually want to bring their dog to games.
“You have dog owners who show up with dogs… I don’t care, but there’s city bylaws,” Bernardo says. “We tell people they can’t have their dog there… but we have people coming from Prince George or Alberta. For us it creates an issue… then we’re starting fights with people over dogs.”
Bernardo says it tends to be the small dogs that are the issue, with people thinking the little dogs are okay.
“It’s more the purse dogs,” he says. “But I always think you’d never bring a dog to a hockey game, so why bring it to football?”
Cook agrees most dog owners are responsible and it’s usually just the one or two that ruin it for everyone else. He also points out most B.C. communities do not allow dogs on sports fields but it is still up to the organizing group to let teams travelling to Kamloops for a game or tournament to know the rules.
“You probably shouldn’t assume dogs are allowed on any sports fields in the province,” Cook says. “You can only allow them in so many places. There’s already over 30 off-leash areas (in Kamloops.)”
Dog owners can expect the annual licensing fees to go up $5 in January. Those increases will help cover the costs of dog park improvements around the city. Over the next five years Cook says those improvements will include the addition of a new dog park for Juniper, lights and washroom facilities at some parks and the installation of agility activities.
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