A place for dogs to socialize off leash
Pam Cleary and Nancy Joyce came to the special council meeting on December 10 with the idea to establish an off-leash dog park on Bowen Island.
Joyce said, “We suggest implementing a fully-fenced dog park and the area we are looking at is the centre field in the meadow.” Joyce explained that she understands that the area is used as an informal dog park and suggested approaching Metro Vancouver Parks for support. Cleary told council members that a petition to create the dog park has seen 130 signatures in a day - a clear indication that this is something Bowen Island needs. She explained that there are issues with dogs being unleashed and that creating a formal off-leash area would alleviate the problem. “The area is known as the sheep meadow, it’s situated north east of the main meadow,” she said, adding that it is wetland bordered by two creeks that form a natural boundary.
“It would need some draining, fencing, a garbage can and a bag dispenser,” she said. “We are seeking formal support from council when we approach Metro Vancouver.” Cleary added that the main meadow was not under consideration because of its proximity to the equestrian rink.
Councillor Wolfgang Duntz spoke to the need for a dog park as dogs currently don’t have an opportunity to socialize off leash.
Councillor Alison Morse suggested that since the area has a natural boundary, the first step would be to designate it an off-leash area with plans for fencing as a future option. Councillor and Metro Vancouver director Andrew Stone said that there have been a number of dog parks created in Metro Vancouver but they are not fenced. “[Metro Vancouver] will ask why it needs to be fenced,” he said.
Joyce explained that her dogs are terriers who like to hunt and are likely to take off after wildlife. Bill Newport of the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club also thinks that a fence is a good idea. “The area is bordered by a couple of creeks that are fish-bearing streams and we have salmon spawning there,” he said. “Since our hatchery is right there, Metro Vancouver Parks is likely going to approach us. And we will say no if it isn’t fenced.”
Stone said that the argument for building a fence is out of consideration of the wildlife on Bowen, a different case from other Metro Vancouver Parks. Mayor Jack Adelaar had concerns about dog dropping but Cleary assured him that the people using the off-leash area were likely to pick up after their charges. “The people who take their dogs to a dog park are generally very good,” she said. “And if you’re there, there is a good chance that you are not alone. I think that the incidents of dog feces that are not picked up in the park will drop.”