Summerland council votes down setting up permanent dog park at Peach Orchard Beach

Dog park moving again?

Summerland council wants to try out another temporary off-leash dog park before they decide whether a permanent one will be set up in the community.

The district started with a temporary off-leash dog park in place at Dale Meadows Park on a pilot basis, after council voted down a proposed permanent installation of a 0.27 acre small dog run and 0.78 acre large dog run in 2022.

Then in 2023, temporary fencing was placed at Peach Orchard Beach Park to create a pop-up one-acre off-leash dog park at the beginning of May.

A significant amount of feedback was received over the trial period between May 5 to Sep. 13, 2023.

Vocal concerns came from residents above Peach Orchard Beach Park in Tuscan Terrace and a mix of responses from the general public, both in support of and against the pop-up park.

The district's report states that of the 139 responses they received, 82 (59 per cent) were supportive of the dog park and desired for it to continue to be a dog park, 50 (36 per cent) were not supportive of the dog park and requested that it be removed and seven (five per cent) provided comments, but not an opinion.

"There is no easy recommendation on whether to continue to keep the fenced off leash dog park at this location or abandon the idea and remove the fencing. The community is clearly divided on the subject. There is a very strong desire for dog owners to have a large fenced off-leash dog park in Summerland," said Lori Mullin, director of community services, in her presentation to council Tuesday.

Coun. Janet Peake said that while the district got mixed reviews on this project, it was a "wonderful experiment."

"I do not wish to see it as a permanent fenced area in this park because I believe there is a great option for rotating it. I think Powell Beach beside either the tennis courts or the baseball diamond is an option or a possibility at Snow Avenue. I think there are other ways, there are other places that this venue could be introduced to," she added.

Coun. Adrienne Betts agreed that she would also like the opportunity to see the pop-up try another location and determine whether the feedback would change. Coun. Marty Van Alphen chimed in that the next pop-up should be set where it is not adjacent to a residential area.

Unsolicited by the District of Summerland, the Summerland Dog Owners Association conducted their own survey about Summerland dog parks over the summer, compiled positive Facebook comments in support of the Peach Orchard trial dog park, and collected 519 signatures of people who support “the large [one-acre] Pop-up Dog Park at Peach Orchard Park to be made a permanent amenity."

Dog owners in the group remain frustrated and vocal, among those who want to see a safe, accessible, fully fenced dog park solidified.

Coun. Richard Barkwill said there is no perfect spot, especially in Summerland, for the park.

"You're always gonna get some complaints. I think the complaints are legitimate but overstated," he said. "If we're gonna have a dog park at all, this is where."

Coun. Doug Pattan agreed with Barkwill that they have looked at many municipal and publicly owned properties over the years.

"I feel the positives for utilizing this area for the dogs outweigh any negative comments that have been received as there is no other public amenity that has seen this level of outstanding support from Summerland in recent times."

However, the majority of council felt otherwise, and the motion to set up permanent fencing at Peach Orchard Beach Park was shot down, with just Barkwill and Patan in favour.

In the end, council voted to reach out to the Lutheran Church for a second time to see if they would be open to hosting a temporary pop-up dog park, with Coun. Pattan opposed. Temporary fencing remains in place at the Peach Orchard Beach for the time being.

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