Disagreement over use of Vernon dog park has council at end of leash | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Disagreement over use of Vernon dog park has council at end of leash

September 30, 2015 - 9:00 PM

VERNON - City officials continue to spar over the use of a green space near Marshall Fields as an off-leash dog park.

Residents have been using the area, which runs alongside Marshall Fields by the Lakers Clubhouse, to let their dogs run off leash for years, but now the City of Vernon is now tightening up the rules, and that doesn’t sit well with Coun. Scott Anderson.

“What I’m concerned about is the people who have walked their dogs there for eons, because dogs need to be off leash,” Anderson says. “This is one of the nicest dog parks we’ve got here.”

Greater Vernon has five designated fenced off-leash dog parks in addition to a number of other on-leash only parks, including Marshall Fields. 

City staff told council allowing off leash dogs at the site threatens the spadefoot toad that inhabits the creek, but Anderson insists that argument is moot because of possible airport expansion plans to reroute the creek or pave over it.

“Clearly that is going to affect the frogs much more than anything any dog could ever do, even hoards of dogs,” Anderson says.

He’s heard somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200 people use the area to let their dogs off leash and expects an uproar if the city starts enforcing on-leash restrictions.

“I’ve got a whole whack of people who are ramping up to be quite vociferous about this,” Anderson says.

Anderson opposed a new Parks Master Plan at a public meeting Sept. 28 on the basis that it calls for the area to be on-leash only — a move that left at least one fellow councillor visibly frustrated. Coun. Juliette Cunningham felt the issue shouldn’t ‘unravel the parks plan’ but rather be dealt with separately by the city and regional district. She pointed out the topic was debated at length during council’s last meeting.

“I’m not going to sit here for another hour and discuss dogs (going) off leash, that’s what we did last time. I’m not going to do that this time,” she said.

Coun. Bob Spiers also opposed the Parks Master Plan, but for a different reason; the one per cent tax it calls for over the next ten years for park improvements.

“The Parks Master Plan has merit but I still want to see the financial implication,” Spiers said.

The plan was ultimately accepted, with Spiers and Anderson the only councillors who voted against it.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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