Dog owners keep three canines apart as off-leash areas open

Dog owners took to the parks yesterday as Toronto opened its off-leash areas.

But they didn’t clump together, treating the exercise for their dogs as an opportunity for a social gathering, as they used to in the pre-COVID days.

For the most part they followed the city’s advice to keep up physical distancing in the parks.

The city announced in a press release yesterday the reopening of the dog parks after the province amended its emergency orders to permit  the use of off-leash areas.

Sign at off=leash area
WHIMSICAL WARNING: Signs posted at dog parks ask owners to stand “three happy dogs” apart from each other.

New signs posted at the off-leash areas urged people using them to stay the “length of three happy dogs” apart.

(They didn’t specify whether they meant the length of three happy chihuahuas or three happy German shepherds, but they also included measurements of two metres to make the distance clear.)

“We are glad to be able to reopen the dog parks so that our beloved canine companions can again exercise in the City’s parks,” Toronto mayor John Tory said. “I’m confident dog owners will do the right thing and practise physical distancing in these areas.”

And they seemed to. The humans, and sometimes their pets, were spaced out at the Withrow Park off-leash area in Riverdale yesterday afternoon.

Photos posted online from other Toronto parks showed a similar adherence to the public health guidelines.

(Below is a list of off-leash areas in Streeter communities.)

Other park facilities

More announcements on the reopening of park amenities are expected from the city over the next few days, as part of Ontario’s first phase of recovery from the pandemic shutdown.

However, the province has confirmed that facilities, including playgrounds, fitness equipment and pools, will stay closed until later phases of the reopening plan, according to the city press release.

Meanwhile, the Toronto’s enforcement team continues to monitor parks to ensure individuals and groups do not use closed amenities and are practising physical distancing.

People keep distance at off-leash area
STANDING APART: Dog owners keep up social distancing at Withrow Park off-leash area.


Off-leash areas

Following is a guide to local city parks that have off-leash areas for dogs, based on information provided by the city.



Balmy Beach Park (Silverbirch Park), 1 Beech Ave.
The off-leash area runs from the foot of Silver Birch Avenue to the foot of Nursewood Road.

Cassels Avenue Playground, 69 Cassels Ave.
The off-leash area can be accessed at Brookside Avenue.

Greenwood Park, 150 Greenwood Ave. at Dundas Street East

Hideaway Park, 23 Audley Ave.

Kew Gardens, 2075 Queen St. E.
The off-leash area is near the end of Lee Avenue, on the beach, marked by fencing.

Norwood Park, 16 Norwood Rd.

Vermont Square Park, 819 Palmerston Ave.


Central Toronto

Barbara Hall Park, 519 Church St.

Bickford Park, 400 Grace St. at Harbord Street

Coxwell Ravine Park, 460 O’Connor Dr.

Don Valley Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave.

Ramsden Park, 215 Avenue Rd.

Riverdale Park West, 375 Sumach St.
The off-leash area is southeast of Riverdale Farm.

Vermont Square Park, 819 Palmerston Ave.


Don Valley

Linkwood Lane Park, 10 Linkwood Ln.


Forest Hill

Cedarvale Park, 1611 Bathurst St.
The off-leash area can be accessed from Strathearn Road.

Hillcrest Park, 950 Davenport Rd.

Sir Winston Churchill Park, 301 St. Clair Ave. W.

Wychwood Barns Park, 76 Wychwood Ave.
The off-leash area can be accessed from Christie Street, south of Benson Avenue.



Sandy Bruce Park, 426 Moore Ave.


North Toronto

Sherwood Park, 190 Sherwood Ave.
The off-leash area is in a fenced off-trail area. Follow signs on the trail.

Sunnybrook Park, 1132 Leslie St.
The off-leash area is south-east of Sunnybrook Hospital, on the west side of the West Don River.

Yonge and York Mills, 4070 Yonge St.,
The off-leash area is north of York Mills Road/Wilson Avenue, on the west side of Yonge Street.

Woburn Park, 575 Cranbrooke Ave.
The off-leash area is in the northwest section of the park.


Riverdale-East York

Cherry Beach, 1 Cherry St.

Coxwell Ravine Park, 460 O’Connor Dr.

Gerrard Carlaw Parkette, 855 Gerrard St. E.

Merrill Bridge Road Park, 1 East Lynn Ave.

Monarch Park, 115 Hanson St.
The off-leash area is near the railway tracks.

Oakcrest Parkette, 30 Oakcrest Ave.

Riverdale Park East, 550 Broadview Ave.

Stan Wadlow Park, 888 Cosburn Ave.

Thompson Street Parkette, 120 Broadview Ave.

Withrow Park, 725 Logan Ave.