Dogs at north-end Halifax playground concern parents

Municipal staff removed a no-dogs sign at the Isleville Park after receiving complaints about conflicting signage. Another sign inside the park indicates dogs must be on a leash.

No-dog sign removed from Isleville Park after municipality got complaints about conflicting signs

Isleville Park is a playground located in north-end Halifax. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

One of the draws of north-end Halifax's Isleville Park is that young children can run around freely in the fenced-in playground without worrying about stepping in dog feces.

But now, some parents are concerned this is no longer the case, because dogs are now allowed in the park.

"My main concern is the hygiene — dogs using the park as their bathroom," said Eilidh Blacker, whose 15-month-old son Ruadhan uses the park. "Owners are great and do clean up but I don't believe they can fully clean up after their dogs.

"There's going to be residue in the grass, the kids play, they roll in the grass. Especially in the summer when the splash pad is open, the kids are barefoot and in their bathing suits. I think mixing children, toddlers, babies with dogs and dogs dirt is a recipe for upset."

This sign, located inside Isleville Park, indicates dogs are allowed inside as long as they're on a leash. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Conflicting signs

After receiving complaints about conflicting signs over the summer, municipal staff removed a sign that said "Dogs are not allowed at any time." Another sign inside the park indicated dogs on leashes are permitted.

It's unclear when the sign saying that dogs were forbidden was removed. (Anjuli Patil/CBC, Google Street View)

It's unclear when the sign that said dogs are not permitted was removed from the entrance.

Blacker, who considers herself to be a dog lover, said she first noticed dogs were using the park a couple of days ago. She said a dog owner came in, let the dog poop in the park, picked up after the dog and left.

When she checked, she noticed the no-dogs sign was gone.

Case for dog-free park

An off-leash dog park is located nearby at Fort Needham Memorial Park, Blacker said.

"There's no reason for dogs to come here. There are plenty of spaces for them. I do think that this play park should just be for the kids," said Blacker.

Eilidh Blacker with her husband Craig Whalley and her 15-month-old son Ruadhan. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Amy LaPlante, whose 18-month-old son Conner plays at the park, agrees. She said she realized dogs were coming to the park when her son's wagon wheels got dog poop all over them recently.

"I think it's a really bad idea. I think there should be some places left in the city that are for kids only," said LaPlante.

Safety issues

In addition to concerns about park cleanliness, LaPlante said she's concerned about children potentially being attacked by dogs.

15-month-old Ruadhan Whalley at Isleville Park. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

"This is the only playground in our area that is completely fenced in and secure that you can let your kids run free and not have to worry about them getting attacked by a dog," LaPlante said.

"The dogs like to chase little things that are running around, and kids. They're not going to understand if a little kid is scared of them."

Lindell Smith, the municipal councillor for the area, confirmed he's heard from a couple of residents who are concerned about dogs at Isleville Park.

On-leash 'generally permitted'

A municipal spokesperson said on Monday that the sign forbidding dogs was removed to avoid confusion.

Isleville Park is a fenced-in playground. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

"Dogs are generally permitted at all parks, on-leash, unless there are signs that indicate otherwise," spokesperson Erin DiCarlo told CBC. "Dogs are allowed at this park but must be on a leash."

If there are concerns about dogs at the park — such as owners not picking up after their pet or owners allowing their dogs to be off-leash — residents should call 311 and a compliance officer will be notified.

LaPlante said she doesn't think that's enough.

"There's not enforcement for people not picking up their dog crap ever, so how are they going to enforce it in a playground? They're kind of just putting the problem on the people that use the space," LaPlante said.

LaPlante said she intends to start a petition to make Isleville Park a dog-free playground.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.