A gate has appeared at the off leash area at the R.L. Clark filtration plant. This is at one of the holes in the fence that runs along the east side of the area. A number of dog owners have wanted to see gates put in because there is traffic, including buses on the road out there. You might say, well, you’re dog should be under voice control, and that’s true enough, but sometimes when you get three or four dogs chasing another in play, they simply shut off their brains. I’ve seen it happen countless times.
I was at the park at about 11:30 yesterday morning and there was no gate, but when I took the dogs out at 7:00, there it was. I’m pretty sure the City had nothing to do with this. If the City had done it, a crew would have been out there in early morning. There would have been a truck and maybe a scissor lift. Two people would have been out there holding signs to slow traffic. There might be a visit from the health and safety committee. I can see it being a photo opportunity for local politicians. Moreover, it would have been a better gate. The new gate is clearly a clever home-made effort. It does the trick though.
At the public meeting prior to the opening of the dog park, I spoke and suggested the leash free area be fenced. Quite a number of others spoke too, asking for the same thing. However, the City waffled on this. There are some people who don’t want a fence, and given the tiny portion of the huge available field designated for dogs, I can see why. Without the fence in place, the whole huge field has become the dog park with the signed area as its crux. Dogs gather in the leash-free area, but I suppose the good thing for dog owners is that nobody bothers much about the actual boundaries. I would like to see a bigger area for dogs and one that is safely fenced. More garbage cans, some benches, lighting and water would be bonuses. There currently exists a fence along the east boundary of the leash-free zone. It just has openings instead of gates. There are areas along the fence where even a lab-sized dog can get under the fence with ease.
The leash-free area is poorly placed. In the winter the wind howls through there, and in the spring it becomes a soaking barren and uninviting bog. To the south of the leash-free area is a huge area that forms a lake after every rain. It has dried up for the first time since I moved to the area, this being the driest spring we’ve had in years. At the public meeting, the planners said that the area we have is the area the filtration plant people were willing to give up. A much better spot for the leash free area would be to the west of the property, on top of the hill. Alternatively, the area between the building and along the bottom of the hill and the line of trees at least doesn’t become as boggy. Another issue with the current placement is that commuters cut across the park from the bus stop and some of them don’t much like dogs. The leash-free zone falls squarely on the two commuter paths.
I think the City is right to approve more leash-free areas. They (at least the fenced ones) provide safe
areas for dog owners to take their dogs to play together. People who don’t like dogs or who are scared of dogs are protected from them. There are a number of parks where this works very well. We particularly like the leash free areas at Jack Darling and at Etobicoke Creek valley. Both these are in Mississauga.
There is a strong spirit of volunteerism at the Mississauga parks. We helped spread some wood-chips one day at Jack Darling and we’ll volunteer our time again when we can. I heard after the fact there was a big volunteer clean-up at Etobicoke Creek. There is a huge pile of junk that is piled up, ready to be hauled off to the dump. I think this is great, and I’m up for helping to make our local leash-free area better. However, this kind of volunteerism
shouldn’t have to include putting in a gate. The City really should invest in the basics and let local volunteers take it from there. The City’s investment in this park to date has been two garbage cans and 4 signs. That’s it. I agree that times are tough, but consider that our City government in the last term has had enough money to narrow Lansdowne Ave and is gearing up to put bike lanes on University.
I suppose in the scheme of things, the state of the dog-park is not a huge issue. It’s a park I use every day though and I want it to be as good as it can be. And, it is an election year, and I vote. When candidates for Council come knocking on 27th Street, we’ll be
having this discussion. Perhaps our local Councillor, Mr. Grimes, will influence new properly made gates at the two openings on the Sam Smith Park side of the leash-free area.