Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pickering Dog Park Unleashed

Furry residents can finally run free at fenced-in park
Jun 23, 2010 - 04:30 AM
PICKERING -- For the first time, residents can take their four-legged friends to a park in Pickering where they can run free, without breaking any bylaws.
It wasn't the usual gathering at the official launch June 15, as Pickering's furry residents showed their joy not by clapping, but by wagging tails and running laps around the new leash-free dog park.
The excited pets burst into the area as the song Who Let the Dogs Out played after Mayor Dave Ryan, a dog owner himself, officially unleashed the park.
"It's a welcome addition to the city," he said.
Staff and the volunteer dog park working group have for years searched for the perfect spot to allow Pickering's dogs to run and socialize leash-free. A number of residents in other proposed areas throughout the municipality were opposed to off-leash parks in their neighbourhood for various concerns, including increased traffic and noise.
But now-retired chief administrative officer Tom Quinn, another dog owner, was able to find the perfect location.
"This is a very nice area," he said at the opening.
The large fenced-in area sits in the 41-hectare Grand Valley Park, just south of Third Concession Road and west of Valley Farm Road, It features two parks, one at the bottom of the hill in the clearing, and a smaller one on top of the hill, which is designed for those with mobility issues. The large park includes a recently-expanded parking lot, and also includes a number dog waste bins, a message board and a gazebo so residents can sit in the shade while their dogs run about safely without a leash.
"It's nice we don't have to drive to Ajax anymore," said dog park working group member Angela Sokol, referring to the trek many Pickering residents made in the past to enjoy an off-leash area.
Arnold Mostert, Pickering's landscape and parks development coordinator, explained before the change, the area, which is the head of the Seaton Hiking Trail, was basically just mounds of top soil. The hidden area in which the park sits, and support from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, made the spot ideal.
"It's a little farther from the residents so there's no issue with noise or other issues residents perceive with dog parks," he said.
Pickering resident Marilyn Hedge brought her dogs Ravenna and Ohio out for the launch.
"They're big, they need exercise," she said.
While Ms. Hedge lets her dogs run free in her own large back yard, and takes them on many walks, it's important for them to experience the social aspect of a dog park as well, she said.
Karin Hiscock, the dog park working group's coordinator, said the volunteers will respond to any concerns or complaints about the area. For example, if a fence is broken, or if owners are not properly cleaning up after their dogs, e-mail the working group, or find them by searching for Pickering Off-Leash Dog Park on Facebook. The group will also send out information, updates and notices as they come along.
E-MAIL: pickeringdogpark@hotmail.com

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