#Guelph to Open & Re-open Dog Parks So That Council Can Potentially Lock Them Up?
Ward 3 Councillor June Hofland has announced through a Council Notice of Motion that the fenced in off-leash dog parks located at Bristol Street and Peter Misersky should be closed just weeks after they are to open for public use.
City Council unanimously approved the construction of these two fenced in parks. Misersky Dog Park opened to much fanfare because there has been pent up demand for fenced in dog parks in Guelph for years. It was the only fenced in off-leash dog park in the entire city so many were using it. Council was made aware of further mitigation measures in February to make the experience better. These measures may include the moving of a fence, soft close gates, trees installed for buffering, better monitoring of the site through bylaw and technology, better signage and changes to hours of operation.
The Bristol Street fenced in dog park is currently under construction. We are waiting for the final construction to be completed at this location so that we can open both facilities at the same time, which will be very soon.
In the middle of May the Province announced that during Phase 2 of COVID-19 re-openings that dog parks could be used. Since then, many off-leash dog users in the city have been waiting graciously for these two parks, even though they’ve technically been allowed to be used.
There is also no requirement for the municipality to alter the design of the current off-leash dog park facilities – similar to the entrances to locations like libraries, municipal facilities, shopping centres and other retail locations, it is up to the individual resident to be mindful of sanitizing their hands after touching high contact surfaces like door handles and gate latches. Likewise, it is also up to everyone to maintain physical distancing.
There are also no additional provincial or public health requirements to alter these two existing facilities. City staff have confirmed with Public Health that our off-leash dog park facilities are permitted to reopen under their current configuration with no alterations.
There’s also a couple of outstanding motions from City Council on dog parks.
1. That staff be directed to explore the feasibility of a fenced dog park located in a non-residential area, with the report coming to Council for consideration in the 2021 budget.
2. That staff be directed to report back to Council by the end of Q2 2020 on potential options and costs to lock fenced dog park gates daily from approximately dusk to dawn, which is when the facilities are considered closed to the public.
The first motion will be responded to through an information report in the fall which will provide Council with time to consider any recommendations in advance of the 2021 budget. Info on the second motion has been delayed due to COVID, but staff will report back as soon as they can.
Now that you have that background information, let’s examine the Notice of Motion:
Here it is:
Any member of Council has the ability to bring forward such a motion. This is our process. It will require 7 Councillors to agree to refer this motion for final approval in September. If those 7 Councillors are found, then these facilities will be locked up, closed, sit empty and unused right after they were just opened until info is received on another park.
I certainly will not be one of these 7 votes. There are no concerns from the Emergency Operations Control Group Public Health contact related to the operations of these parks due to COVID-19. NONE. Mitigation measures are being implemented at Misersky and Bristol is about to open. A larger non-residential area park is already being examined and reviewed by staff because of the current approved Council direction to city staff to do so.
The referral motion to another meeting in September will be formally debated at Council on August 24th, but no delegations are allowed as is our process on notices of motions. However, if you want these fenced in off-leash dog parks to stay open as I do, email: email@example.com so you can tell Council why.