British Columbia

Public feedback wanted on new Vancouver dog park strategy

The Vancouver Park Board is proposing new off-leash dog areas in downtown Vancouver, the West End and Mount Pleasant in its first set of recommendations reviewing the city's dog park strategy.

Vancouver Park Board proposing new off-leash locations in the city as well as revamping existing parks

One recommendation from the Vancouver Park Board's draft report is to ensure all Vancouver residents have access to an off-leash area within a 15-minute walk. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

The Vancouver Park Board is looking for public feedback on draft recommendations for its new dog park strategy, which includes creating new off-leash dog areas in the city.

The recommendations come from consultations it held in fall 2016 to revamp the city's "People, Parks, and Dogs" strategy meant to help people with and without dogs to better use and share park space.

The report recommends Vancouver residents be able to access an off-leash area within a 15-minute walk and larger, destinations parks within a 35-minute walk or short drive.

In particular, it says new off-leash areas should be prioritized in densely populated neighbourhoods like the West End, Downtown, Kitsilano, Fairview, Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland.

Erin Embley with the Vancouver Park Board is one of the planners on the project. Her group is soliciting feedback on these initial recommendations. 

"Space is really limited in the downtown core, so we're curious to hear if people are supportive of maybe looking at one or two parks in the downtown core where we would allow dogs off-leash for early morning hours," she said.

Off-leash controversy

Another recommendation includes creating parks with clearly marked boundaries so that people with dogs can know exactly where they're supposed to be.

"A lot of these spaces have many different uses and we really need to find ways that the different activities can coexist together," she said. "We want to help people with good, clear signage."

In 2014, the city caused controversy among dog owners when it tried to reduce and fence-in the off-leash dog area in Trout Lake.

The fallout prompted public consultation.

Embley said the new strategy will help create a more engaging experience for Vancouverites — and their furry companions.

"Dogs are great connectors. They are very important parts of people's families and daily lives. They bring people together. They get people outdoors, recreating, moving about."

Public consultations begin tonight at the Kitsilano Community Centre at 5:30 p.m. PT, with more to follow in the weeks to come

A finalized strategy will be completed by spring 2017.

With files from Margaret Gallagher and Bal Brach

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Public feedback wanted on new Vancouver dog park strategy