Councillor’s Column: Compromising on an issue that dogs us all

Chernushenko

By David Chernushenko

Dogs — they’re a topic municipal politicians try to avoid. Why? Because some residents love dogs and feel they should be able to roam freely through every park or greenspace. Some tolerate them in designated off-leash areas, and some feel they should be on-leash at all times, everywhere. How is a politician to bring these groups, and the shades of grey between them, together for compromise when it’s needed?

It’s easier to let sleeping dogs lie.

But in Old Ottawa East, the development of the Oblates property means a wide-open expanse of land formerly used for dog walking has now become, for the most part, private property. The remaining corridor of land leading from Brantwood Park on the south to Springhurst Park on the north is far narrower and will accommodate both a paved multi-use pathway and a more naturalized footpath. This is, to most observers, not an ideal location to let dogs run free.

The challenge is therefore to find spaces, or to redefine those we already have, taking into account the growth and change in our community. How do we balance the needs of dog owners, other users of parks and pathways, and groups that use our fields for organized activities — all while ensuring that families and individuals feel safe and comfortable visiting our parks?

In the fall of 2016, my office began consultations with community groups (including the OECA and CAG) and City staff in three departments to help define permitted uses in our parks. That includes considering our options as a community, the processes we need to undertake, and the varying viewpoints on what is important for our park users.

At the March OECA Board meeting, the dog-owners’ group will present a draft proposal for wider discussion. Broadly, this proposal will aim to modify or add to our current park regulations:

  • Dogs permitted on-leash on all pathways (paved or not) through Brantwood Park, the Greystone pathway and Springhurst Park.
  • Dogs permitted off-leash (seasonally and by time of day) on the outfields of the baseball diamonds in Brantwood Park
  • Dogs permitted on-leash in the southern section of Springhurst park, south of the pathway leading off of Springhurst Ave.
  • Designating an off-leash area in the open green space at 160 Lees Ave., between Springhurst Park and the apartment complexes on Lees. The shape, location and nature of this area are still being defined, as we are very sensitive to families who use the playground area and the open field, and want to maintain safety and comfort for all users.

This spring, the City’s By-Law group will undertake, with the help of my office, the public consultation process required to modify community parks. Signs will be posted in affected parks, and feedback sought from the community.

I understand the potential for this issue to pit neighbour against neighbour and, dog owners against those who do not have these pets as part of their families. I also appreciate the capacity of our community to openly discuss and compromise in everyone’s interests.

I look forward to working with our vibrant and growing community to help ensure our spaces are welcoming, safe and sustained for everyone.

Councillor David Chernushenko
613-580-2487 | David.Chernushenko@Ottawa.ca | www.capitalward.ca

 

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