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Proposed off-leash dog parks narrowed to four locations

Bellevue Park isn't one of them
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If City Council agrees tonight, James Elliott Park on Rossmore Road and East End Park near the wastewater treatment plant will be floated as proposed new locations for off-leash dog parks.

Also under consideration for seasonal off-leash use are the Anna McCrea and William Merrifield boarded rink areas, from May to October.

City Council asked staff last year to look into two new dog parks locations, one in the East End (preferably in Bellevue Park) and another in the West End.

The Sault's sole existing off-leash dog facility – Strathclair Dog Park at 962 Second Line East – opened in 2015 after nine years of delays that ended only when the LOL Dog Association got involved.

"The LOL Dog Association has recently dissolved and therefore, Sault Ste. Marie does not have an off-leash dog association or active volunteers," says Virginia McLeod, the city's manager of recreation and culture.

Topsail Island in Bellevue Park is often cited as a possible dog-park location but the city's parks and recreation advisory committee rejected that idea in 2008.

Councillors will be asked tonight to approve a two-phase public consultation process:

  • Community engagement (June-July 2020). The leash-free study will include community engagement through an online survey. Two information/feedback sessions were planned, however due to the current situation feedback will be received electronically. Residents living within a 400-metre radius of the possible locations would be engaged through a direct mail-out so they can review the materials, complete the survey and provide comments, or contact city staff for more information. In response to the Council resolution of creating two additional dog parks,the sites of Elliot Park and East End Park will be presented to the community as locations for fenced-in off=leash dog parks. In addition, feedback regarding seasonal use of Anna McCrea and William Merrifield boarded rink areas from May to October as permitted off-leash dog locations will be obtained. Information gathered will be used to determine our community’s requirements in reference to fostering healthy relationships between dog owners and non-dog owners who use municipal green spaces and parks.
  • Finalizing recommendations (August 2020). Survey and community engagement results will be presented to the parks and recreation advisory committee followed by a report to City Council. The council report will include a recommended plan of action regarding dog park development and include financial implications and guidelines to ensure consistent support for those seeking off-leash spaces.

Tonight's City Council meeting will be teleconferenced because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The gathering will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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