New West pooch owners press for off-leash area in Moody Park

Moody Park is going to the dogs – with or without an off-leash area.

Each evening, dog owners living in condominiums around Moody Park gather in an area between two baseball diamonds to give their pooches a chance to exercise and socialize.

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“We have all got small dogs,” said Catherine McEwen. “There is anywhere from six to 19 dogs.”

McEwen and her husband wrote to the city two years ago urging it to provide an off-leash dog area in Moody Park.

“We are still trying to get a dog park in Moody Park,” she told The Record. “The Moody Park Residents’ Association is going to get involved now.”

A representative of the residents’ associations met with dog owners on a recent evening to get a better understanding of their concerns.

“The dogs love it. Most of them live in condos or apartments,” McEwen said. “They don’t have yards. They are socializing. They just love it, they have a ball.”

A bylaw officer recently dropped by the park to chat with residents, after the city received a complaint about dogs running off-leash.

“We were letting them off leash. We let them run and play with each other,” McEwen said. “As soon as we saw her everybody started leashing up. She reminded us they need to be on leashes.”

McEwen said the complaint occurred after a small dog ran up to a large dog, whose owner was walking it on a leash through the park.  Since the bylaw officer’s visit, McEwen said dog owners have been keeping their pooches on long leashes during their evening gathering, but that results in them tangled up and wrapped around their owners’ legs.

“We go every evening. When it rains four dogs might show up,” said McEwen, who owns Indio, a spaniel-Chihuahua mix who enjoys playing with neighbourhood dogs. “When the weather is nice, we can have up to 19 dogs in that little area between the two ball diamonds.”

Many residents think a corner of the Moody Park near 10th Street and Sixth Avenue is ideal for an off-leash area.

“That one corner down there where all the trees are, nobody uses it. It’s just trees and grass,” McEwen said. “Everybody would be happy.”

City staff recently provided council with a report about its 2014 dog off leash management plan. The report noted that residents have asked the city to create additional off-leash areas in Grimston, Moody, Sullivan and Simcoe parks, as well as Victoria Hill, Queensborough beach at Port Royal and Glenbrook Raving.

Last November, the city’s parks and recreation committees considered a recommendation to create a non-fenced off-leash dog area in Moody Park.

“Staff have taken a more conservative approach and have recommended in the plan that an off-leash area in Moody Park continue to be the number one priority area, and that  community consultation process take place with both area residents and park users to plan both the type of park and its possible location,” stated a staff report.

The city’s 2014 financial plan includes $50,000 in capita funding for an additional off-leash dog enclosure in New Westminster.

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