Howling over leash debate

The issue of off-leash dogs at Marshall Fields had civic leaders barking once again in council chambers Monday.

Council is split down the middle on the issue.

While the city waits for an environmental assessment on the area and the impact dogs would have on the riverbanks in which the endangered spade-foot toad lives, one councillor wanted to suspend fines for people with off-leash dogs at the Okanagan Landing park.

Coun. Scott Anderson, a strong supporter of an off-leash area in Marshall Field, made a motion that the city suspend fines to people allowing their dogs off leash in the 'rough' area between the play fields and the creek.

However, Coun. Akbal Mund said having dogs running free next to a play field is not a good idea and while the majority of dog owners are responsible, there are some who will let their dogs run on the play field.

“I think you will have more issues than you have now because people will think the whole area is off leash,” said Mund adding the fields will be getting busier in the coming weeks.

Anderson pointed out only the rough area would be off leash and tickets should be given to dog owners allowing their dogs run free on the play fields or disc golf area.

Coun. Dalvir Nahal pointed out the fields have dozens of geese on them at the moment, and they can be a messy bird.

“Geese don't bite,” said Mund to the murmurs of off-leash supporters in the gallery.

Mund pointed out there were two cases of off-leash dogs biting people on the Rail Trail last year and said irresponsible owners “occurs there a lot. If we suspend enforcement (at Marshall Field) it will tell people to do what they please.”

Council did agree to suspend tickets for people letting their dogs run off leash in the rough area with councillors Kelly Fehr, Akbal Mund and Kari Gares voting against it.

Bylaw will issue fines if dogs are on the play field or the disc golf area.

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