A major factor in Paul Wesley’s decision to move to Monarch Park Avenue three years ago was the proximity to the park of the same name.
Now, he feels it’s unsafe to bring his children there. The problem, Wesley says, is the off-leash dog park found there isn’t fenced in.
“Dog’s run rampant throughout the entire park and it’s not safe at all for children or for adults,” he said. “I’ve seen several dog fights, dogs just roaming freely — Dobermans, German Shepherds, etcetera.”
Wesley says he has written to councillor Paula Fletcher, who directed him to parks, forestry and recreation. But he says he gets the runaround at that level, being told it’s an issue that was downloaded to animal services. And that department has told him they don’t have the manpower to monitor the area.
“It’s frustrating because no one wants to deal with the issue,” he said, calling it a political issue. “No one wants to upset the dog owners, but at the same time I don’t feel like I can use the park the way I want to, and I shouldn’t feel threatened in my own neighbourhood.”
Though there are signs in the park indicating where the off-leash area is, Wesley says they are ineffective because just pay no attention to them. He also said money shouldn’t be a concern for the city, considering this is a safety issue.
“The whole idea of an off-leash area without a fence is ridiculous,” Wesley said, likening it to a non-peeing section in a pool. “It makes no sense. People treat the whole park as a dog park.”
Wesley says he goes to the park daily at 4 p.m. with his two-year-old daughter and will be doing the same one day with his son, who was born at the beginning of October. But with the roaming dogs and the potential danger they present to children, it makes him feel unwelcome.
“We want to stay in this neighbourhood and one of the reasons we moved here, to be honest, was for the park,” he said. “It’s a huge park, it’s a great park and I want to be able to use it.”
Though he hasn’t been able to get a solution from the city, Wesley says there a few options for what to do with the off-leash area.
For one, he says, the area could be fenced in or shrunk, then fenced in, while another option is to direct dog owners to a nearby park that has a fenced-in area. Barring those, another alternative would be getting rid of it altogether.
“I don’t want to be dramatic, because some days when you walk down there is quite nice,” he said, making sure to mention that he doesn’t blame or dislike the dogs. “But for the most part when I’m down there it’s not a friendly place to be.”
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