At the December 3, 2012 meeting, City Council carried a resolution committing $45,000 to the construction of Sault Ste. Marie's first leash-free dog park to be located near Strathclair Park.
Last evening, the Community Services Department and representatives from Legal Off Leash Dog Owners Group of Sault Ste. Marie (LOLDOGS) invited members of the public to an information open house at the Civic Centre.
Nick Apostle, commissioner of community services, told SooToday.com that construction of the anticipated 500 by 300-foot gated dog park will hopefully begin in the spring of 2014.
In addition to the funding commitment from the City, LOLDOGS will raise $25,000 towards the development project through community donations and fundraising events.
Construction will not begin until LOLDOGS has achieved its fundraising goal.
"We hope we'll be close enough to our goal by the end of the year to go to City Council with a good faith commitment that we'll reach our portion by the time everything gets going in the spring," said LOLDOGS Chair, Beth Eady.
While most attendees at last night's open house were there for information, Apostle said a few homeowners adjacent to the dog park site expressed some concerns regarding the project, including park access, noise, hours of operation, and parking.
Current plans for the development include a gated four-foot high fence enclosing the entire park as well as its own parking lot.
Apostle said the park would be located approximately 600 feet away from the nearest homes, but a natural sound barrier (trees) could be considered should the need arise.
The leash-free park would be subject to the normal city-wide park hours of operation and would be open to public access between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
In order to access the park, owners will need to provide proof of licensing - which means all vaccinations must be up-to-date - and adhere to a set of park rules, including cleaning up after their pets.
Most responsible dog owners are very good at policing themselves, Apostle said, but should a severe case of abuse of park privileges come to the attention of authorities, a trespass order could be issued and use of the park revoked.
It is the hope of LOLDOGS that once the leash-free park is opened to the public, owners will adjust to the idea and discontinue using other parks in the area as leash-free play zones.
"There will definitely be a transition period, but I suspect things like off-leash enforcement and possible fines in places like Topsail will get a lot more stringent once there is a facility that is available for use," Eady told us.
The dog park will be more than just a giant doggy free-for-all, Eady said, and plans are in the works for a variety of canine-related events to be hosted at the location.
In the mean time, if you wish to help the development of the Sault's leash-free dog park, owners are invited to bring their pooch to Rome's on May 10 and 11 for 'Picture With Your Dog' Days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dog portraits will be $10 each with all proceeds supporting LOLDOGS and its efforts.
For more information about LOLDOGS, please click here