I was very surprised and disappointed to read of the lobbying to close the dog park at Millennium Park in last week’s paper.
I was delighted when the park opened, right here in my neighborhood, soon after I returned to Castlegar after living on the coast for many years where dog parks and off-leash areas were a common amenity offered in urban areas.
Numerous benefits are provided by Castlegar’s park to local dogs and their caretakers, especially those with small, or no fenced yards and/or limited mobility. Dogs can run free in a designated safe enclosed space, burn off energy, get much needed play, stimulation and exercise, and build socialization with other dogs and humans. A professional trainer told me once, “a tired dog, is a good dog” which is exactly what the park can offer, it helps dogs learn to coexist tolerantly with its neighbours, human and canine alike.
I’m disheartened to hear there may be disrespectful dog guardians contributing to conflict about the use of this valuable space. I sympathize with the complaints put forth and agree solutions should be found to the challenges residents near the dog park are facing.
It sounds like our dog park needs better monitoring and some dog guardians perhaps need more education to ensure a positive experience for dog park users and the broader community. Complaints were rare for the first few years so perhaps better regulation is needed now as use has increased.
I hope we can agree though, dogs are a beloved and important part of our lives, our towns and our parks and dog guardians living in our downtown neighbourhoods deserve park space too. The reality is, cities and towns are an exercise in patience, an experiment for all of us to try to learn to live together. I think we all must make compromises so that our neighbours also have access to public spaces that meet their needs. That’s what being a good neighbour means.
A conversation on how we can all coexist tolerantly and improve outcomes for everyone is clearly needed, but the suggestion to shut down a much used and loved dog park offered in a central and accessible location is an unnecessary and extreme solution to a problem that I think can be better addressed fairly for everyone starting with respectful dialogue and compromise, not ultimatums.