A group of Castlegar residents has banded together to ask the City of Castlegar to close the dog park at Millennium Park.
Jarrod Beck appeared before city council on Sept. 5 representing “residents of 5th Avenue and 8th Street.”
Beck said neighbours of the dog park have had enough of the “public nuisance” that the park has become. He cited dog fights, dog owner fights, off-leash dogs entering private property, dog attacks and constant noise from barking dogs as grievances.
Beck also read several letters from neighbours backing up his claims.
“I would also recommend that you strongly urge those that support dog parks to advocate for them to be placed in their own neighbourhoods, because it’s wreaking havoc on ours,” said Beck.
Beck said the current level of bylaw enforcement at the park isn’t working, and when neighbours try to intervene it doesn’t go well.
“We get treated with hostility, name calling, expletives … we take a lot of abuse down there just asking people to be responsible for their pets.”
During council’s second meeting of the day, several additional dog park neighbours spoke about their concerns during question period.
“This is our home and we can not get any relief from this noise,” Margaret Ellis told council.
Another resident reported he has been attacked by two different off-leash dogs in the park area.
The SPCA has a contract from the city to deal with animal control issues. But officers have typically been patrolling during weekdays and not when the park is busiest in the evenings and weekends.
Tracey Butler, the city manager in charge of bylaw enforcement, confirmed that there have not been any tickets issued this year related to dogs at Millennium Park.
She said, “The approach we have is education before enforcement.”
At the council meeting, Butler reported that she has had a conversation with the SPCA and that they will be altering their patrol schedule in response to the complaints.
Another major concern the residents brought forward was the off-leash dog beach area and the impact it is having on wildlife, particularly sandpipers, and that it is keeping people from being able to enjoy the shoreline.
As to the problem with the humans fighting, Beck and his neighbours were encouraged by the city to call the police when it is happening.
Council did not make any decisions related to the park, as the matter before council was just a presentation by a delegation, not an actual motion.
CAO Chris Barlow advised council that if they were to desire to make any substantive changes at the park, they would need to first submit a notice of motion. That would then provoke a debate at a subsequent council meeting and present an opportunity for the community at large to understand what is being considered.
This is the second time in less than a year that controversy over the dog park has come before council. During the budget process in late 2022, council considered allotting $95,000 to pay for lighting at the park.
While some dog owners lobbied for the lights, neighbours pleaded against them.
Councillor Cherryl Macleod, who lives near the dog park, vocalized strong opposition at the time.
“We listen to dog fights down there during the daylight enough already. We also listen to the owners of said dogs fight,” said MacLeod.
“To light up their yards until 10 or 11 at night when it’s the only time it’s somewhat quiet down there, I’m not in favour of that at all in any way, shape, or form.”
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