Fenced off-leash dog park gets support at open house

The city is still on the fence about fully enclosing the Lauderdale off-leash park, but the dog owner who has been leading the charge says Thursday night's open house was a step in the right direction.

City heard overwhelming support to enclose the area at a Thursday night open house

People examine a map of the Lauderdale off-leash dog park during the city's open house Thursday. (Roberta Bell/CBC)

The city is still on the fence about fully enclosing the Lauderdale off-leash park, but people who attended an open house Thursday night appeared to give the option overwhelming support. 

The city is leaning towards putting some kind of fencing or barrier around the park in the Grand Trunk area but what it will look like is still up for debate. 

The dog owner who has been leading the charge for a fence says the open house was a step in the right direction. 

"I think the city has come a long way," said Ken Zahara, who has chaired a committee pushing to build a fence around the area for the past two-and-a-half years. 

"Our big issue has always been the safety of the dogs."

The off-leash park, one of the largest and most frequented in Edmonton, borders some busy roads, including 127th Avenue. 

Dog owners have been telling the city that their pets have been killed and injured in the traffic. 

"You can't have your dog under control at all times. If there's a rabbit running by, they'll chase them," said Zahara, who admitted his 13-year-old golden retriever has run off on occasion. 
Ken Zahara, chair of the committee that has been pushing to enclose the Lauderdale off-leash park, says partial fencing isn't acceptable. (Roberta Bell/CBC)

'It needs to be fully fenced'

Nicole Fraser from the city of Edmonton is overseeing a pilot project at Lauderdale Park that could set a precedent to improve other off-leash areas. She said fencing — or at least partial fencing — is up for consideration.

She said "soft barriers" such as hedges and berms are also possibilities. 

But those options raise red flags for Zahara. 

"It needs to be fully fenced," he said. "Putting up shrubs, the dogs get attracted to them and the next thing you know they're going through the shrubs."

Coun. Bev Esslinger said not everyone wants to see the space cordoned off. 

"They don't feel that it's very community friendly," Esslinger said. 

At the open house, the city provided maps of the park on which people could indicate what they would like to see. People attached coloured sticky notes to the sides. Many of them called for an enclosure. 
A sticky note attached to the map of the Lauderdale off-leash park suggests fully enclosing the space is the only way to go. (Roberta Bell/CBC )

The budget for the project is $305,000.

A city report last summer pegged the cost of a chain-link fence at $56,000, plus an annual maintenance fee of $6,563. 

Other upgrades being considered for the park include garbage bag dispensers, signage and landscaping.

Based on the feedback from the open house, Fraser said the city's landscape architects will have some potential designs for public consideration in the spring and that construction should be underway by the fall. 



With files from Laura Osman