Summerland Dog Owners Association upset with proposed locations for a new dog park

Lack of proper dog park

Casey Richardson

The Summerland Dog Owners Association is frustrated with the time it’s taking the district to get a safe, accessible, fully fenced dog park and isn’t happy with the locations they’re now proposing to use.

Jennifer Stark, along with her furry companions Zoe Binks and Jamie Fraser, are acting as the spokesperson for the association, sharing that after many consultations, open houses, meetings, and surveys, it was devastating when the council recently rejected their favoured location to date.

“The issues are after nine years of working with the council and the mayor they systematically have put it off, again again and again,” Stark said.

Summerland Mayor Toni Boot acknowledged it’s been a long process and Council is trying to work through it while hearing all of the feedback on the locations.

“We did not figure out the dog park and that was due mostly to some real concerns that were voiced by community members,” Boot said. “We had some of the funding left over so the consultant was tasked with doing some more work on the dog park locations.”

The consultant will be bringing forward the pros and cons of the next two areas identified, the Dale Meadows Sports Complex and the Fosbery easement off Highway 97.

“We’ve come to a point where we pretty much have exhausted the options,” Boot said. “We need to make a decision. It’s not like a lot of time has not been spent on this and sometimes there is compromise and we’ll see what happens with that. Certainly, our minds are open to looking at both of the options as they’re presented to us again and we’ll go from there.

“I have a dog myself so I’m looking forward to having a dog park,” she added.

But Stark and the Summerland Dog Owner’s Association feel one of the former spots, the Living Memorial Ball Park Diamond at Snow Avenue was the right choice. However, the District heard other concerns and found other community members were in disagreement about changing the ballpark to an area for dogs, so the council moved on.

So far, there has been no clear consensus from the community in support of one spot.

“We’re not going to except a dangerous place next to the highway or shredded asphalt to run our dogs on that are far too small to accommodate only a few dogs at best. It certainly isn’t going to increase the users in the summer when the tourist come by.”

Another point from the association added that ‘nearly every other community in the Okanagan since at least 2012 has not only implemented a dog park, but many have expanded to provide multiple large off-leash, year-round dog parks,’ pointing to Lake Country, Coldstream and Oliver.

“We take our dogs for a walk on the street but they need to run and play and socialize and the people that own the dogs need to get together and socialize as well.”

The dog park debate among community members, the dog owners association and Council will continue on as Summerland residents wait for the next round of presentations at the District and the location remains undecided.

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