Dog owners in Outremont fear for future of their park
Overpass construction and student housing threaten vast park loved by big dogs and their owners
For Aaron Vest and his 10-month-old golden retriever Baxter, the Outremont dog park is a slice of canine heaven. The visual effects professional just moved to Montreal from Los Angeles.
"It gives him a chance to come out and play and get some energy out and socialize," said Vest.
"And it gives us a chance, we're new in the neighbourhood, to meet some of our new neighbours now that we're out here."
The park is nestled between the new Université de Montréal campus and the overpass linking the Outremont borough to the Town of Mount Royal. And at some 8,000 square metres, it's one of the largest dog parks in the city.
Mature trees and hedges line the perimeter and an old running track rings the park.
But the overpass will need replacing in the next 10 years. That construction, along with the building of new housing for the campus, threaten to eat up most, if not all, of the dog park.
The extension of Thérèse-Lavoie-Roux Avenue from the campus to the overpass will bisect the park.
For Chloe Boone, the 45-minute trek to get to the park is well worth it just to have the extra space for her pit bull, Blue.
"It's a big park with bigger dogs and I find there tends to be aggression issues in smaller parks with bigger dogs," said Boone.
"I think it would be a mistake, actually, to destroy this park. It's really difficult to find a space where I can socialize him and that's really important."
A spokesman for the Outremont borough told CBC News there will be a new dog park in the area once the development is complete.
The City of Montreal controls development of the land in the area. It would not comment on the matter until after it meets with dog owners in the coming weeks.
L'Association du Parc Canin Outremont says it's worried about that meeting with the city.
"We do not want them to come with a plan that's already done," said the association's treasurer, Geneviève de Grandpré.
Grandpré says and it is not too late to keep the park intact as the surrounding area changes.
"It is so important to keep the park. It is a community park, it is a people park. It's not only a dog park," she said.
Lisa Caputo lived in Outremont for several years before moving to Rivière-des-Prairies in the city's east end. She still makes the trip with her massive 10-month-old leonberger, Ozzy. She's worried about the prospect of losing the vast park.
"That would really be a shame," said Caputo. "Now, we're going to go where? For me, I don't know where I'm going to go."
The dog park association has launched a petition to save the park. More than 1,700 people have signed it so far.