No more dog escapes

[attach]4842[/attach]The dog days of summer may be over, but they’re still going strong at Kew-Balmy beach following the city’s construction of a new fence at the off-leash dog park.

The fence was constructed to replace an existing one that [url=]showed signs of disrepair[/url].

The Toronto Beaches Dog Association worked with Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation department to replace the aging fence and beautify the off-leash dog area.

The city recognized that the old fence was highly utilized and in need of refurbishment, said James Dann, waterfront parks manager for Toronto.

“It’s a hugely popular location,” Dann said. “If you go down to the beach in the off-season, some of the very few people you’ll actually see are the dog walkers.”

Toronto Beaches Dog Association member Chris Yaccato said it’s not uncommon to see dog walkers at all hours of the day.

“There isn’t a day or a time during normal day activity that this dog park isn’t in use in some capacity,” he said. “It’s amazing, people are here at two o’clock in the morning.”

Dann said while encouraging park use is a valuable part of the new fence, it was primarily replaced for safety reasons.

“We don’t have any dogs escaping from it anymore,” Dann said. “We had some small dogs who would get out through the holes in the fence. We don’t have that as an issue at all (now).”

But the fence has also had some unexpected benefits, such as park beautification.

“The post and paddle fencing they’re using is also visually appealing,” Dann said. “It used to just be some wire fencing.”

Yaccato says the new fence is a big improvement.

“It was an eyesore,” he said. “To have a beautiful beach and an ugly dog park just didn’t go hand in hand.”

Upper Beach resident Catrina Wood praised the new fence for improving safety.

“I think it’s great to have it in our community,” she said. “I’m glad they made the fences better, it was just sort of a rickety snow fence that they had there before.”

The new post and paddle fence cost approximately $75,000 to install, and came out of the city’s Parks Rehabilitation budget. The city also installed several new entrance and maintenance gates and a double-gated area.

Yaccato said the Toronto Beaches Dog Association is currently organizing fundraising to maintain and upgrade other local off-leash areas, but is happy with the progress they’ve had at Kew-Balmy.

“Parks (Forestry) and Recreation have done a great job,” he said. “They stepped up to the plate and they should be applauded for making sure that everyone can use our public spaces.”