Do Vancouver Parks Need “Pooch Patches” and Dog-Friendly Dig Zones?

The Vancouver Park Board wants feedback on ideas to reduce clashes with the canine classes.

February 6, 2017

By Neal Hall / Photo: Evaan Kheraj

A lot of Vancouverites love their four-legged friends, but not everyone is a fan of dogs. If you’re a birdwatcher frustrated when pups run loose along the beach and scare away the waterfowl; a parent of small children who fears for your offspring when rambunctious dogs barrel through playgrounds; or if you’ve ever had the misfortune of stepping in a steaming pile of dog doo on a run along the seawall, you may not be so fond of canines.

Yes, there are a few issues to work out between the dog people in the city and the rest of society as the Vancouver Park Board heads into Round 2 of public consultation on how to reduce dog-induced conflict in city parks.

After receiving 4,000 responses last year during Round 1 of the consultation on four-legged friends, the board’s planning team has made a number of draft recommendations and is seeking further feedback on its suggested moves.

Recommendations up for debate:

1. Removing time restrictions at some off-leash areas. Right now, these limit about half of the city’s 36 off-leash parks to morning or evening hours—6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Park Board is considering expanding hours at some of those parks to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. year-round.

2. Introducing “Pooch Patches.” Another hot-button topic is—you guessed it—”dog waste management,” which the Park Board hopes to address by adding fenced areas or clearly marked boundaries for dogs, including small sand pits called “pootch patches” where dogs can do their business. The areas well also have garbage bins and bag dispensers for when doody calls.

Code of Conduct Reboot

The Park Board also wants feedback on an expanded code of conduct to encourage dog owners and non-dog owners to get along. Those with furry friends in tow would need to ensure all dogs are licensed, are under voice control and are closely supervised at all times. As well, owners would need to ensure their dogs are not aggressive toward people or other dogs, respect clearly marked off-leash area boundaries, and, of course, avail themselves of the aforementioned pooch patches. Those without a fido in tow would be compelled to supervise children closely, limit open food near off-leash areas and restrain themselves from approaching or petting dogs without the owners’ permission.

The new report—the board calls it a “discussion guide”—also has handy drawings of some proposals, including an off-leash dog park paradise with astroturf, areas for dogs to dig and climb, and space set aside where small dogs can chill out without being hounded by bigger breeds.

Have Your Say

To gather public reaction to the draft recommendations, there will be a series of eight open houses, starting Feb. 11. The full schedule of open houses is online here. You can also have your say in an online survey here.

Final recommendations in the People, Parks and Dogs plan are expected to go to the Park Board for review and approval in late May or early June. The results will serve as a master plan for city parks over the next 10 years.

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