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The Fence

The City has been building a fence at our local leash-free park at the R.L.Clark Filtration Plant. Some readers may recall the post I made on this subject some time ago on this blog. My position has been that the dog park is poorly located on the property. I think there are lots of good reasons to create a fenced area, but the City chose to locate the leash-free area squarely on a long-established commuter path. People who walk to the bus stop from 23rd St. cut across there because it’s the shortest path. Now that the fence is being built, it’s becoming obvious to commuters that they are going to have to walk around the fenced leash-free area because no gates are being installed to allow them to continue to use the established path.

I raised the issue on this blog on the same post that called attention to the gate that one of the local dog owners made months ago. The following comment appeared on this blog May 5 from Sheila Paxton, who identified herself as Councillor Mark Grimes’ Executive Assistant (in the same comment, she suggested that the City was responsible for the crude home-made gate built by one of the neighbours):

The city have everything to dow with the gate.
Following the community meeting several members of the public had suggested that the area be fenced in. Councillor Grimes suggested the gates.
The community was advised later that fences could not be put in till the spring but we would open the park immediately..
So now that we are putting the fences and gates in as promised you are implying its not the city doing it.
Well of course its the City .
Teh area will be fenced shortly and we will also be fencing and opening the park in Humber Bay Shores.
As to the area in the park where the dog park is , this is the area that was originally suggested by the community and was approved based on the location.
Sheila Paxton
Executive Assistant to Councillor Mark Grimes

In my post I even took the trouble to post photographs of possible alternatives the City might consider. I was at a public meeting on the dog park back in the winter. When the topic of the location came up, there was no consultation. We were told that this was the only area the Filtration Plant folks would allow the park.

So, why am I raising this issue again? Yesterday evening, an angry neighbour approached me and said, “Are you the guy who advocated the fence here?” I explained my position – I think a fence is good, but I don’t think the leash free area is in the right place.  I’m linking to my previous post today which outlined my position back in May.  The problem is that the park was “designed” without consideration into neighbourhood issues. At the public meeting back in the winter, the City should have asked for volunteers – neighbours and users – to work with the planning folks to make sure all the issues were considered. I was at that meeting and I would happily have participated because this is a place I take my dogs Memphis and Ellie Mae to daily. I want it to be right. I don’t want to have angry neighbours, and I certainly don’t want them angry with me.

Now they’re building the fence, and the commuters are starting to get angry. When the students return to school, the issue will continue to escalate.  Not only does the fence block the commuter path, it’s so arbitrary, it seems as if the planning folks never even looked at the space. There is a total of one tree in the whole field and they chose to fence 20 feet away from the tree, excluding it, and our make-shift bench from the park. As well, they are fencing off the park in such a way as to leave a large strip of unused land that could just as well have been included in the leash free area. It’s almost as if they had a pre-conceived size limitation and imposed it on the field.

My Councillor’s office was obviously not interested in the ideas I proposed about this leash-free area, either on this blog or by email. It will be interesting to see how much traction the complaints of commuters gets with The City. At the very least, they should put in gates that will allow commuters to cut through the park and continue to use the long-established pathway to the bus. Will they? It’s an election year, but I don’t even know if our current Councillor is running for re-election. I do know that when candidates come knocking on my door, I’ll be discussing what happened with this park. I’ll be asking if there is anyone willing to make it better, and I’ll be asking every candidate what they are going to do to improve public consultation on issues like this.  I urge other voters in my area and across the City to do the same. Talk to the candidates. Tell them what you expect. Ask them how they will behave in office. Most of all, vote. We have mediocre municipal government in this city and I believe that we can improve that by participating in the election.

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