Sooke district council has approved a fenced dog park at Pond’s Park Corridor, despite complaints from area residents.
In a recent report to council, district staff said the site between Church and Townsend roads was selected because it is centrally located and has exceptional drainage, which would minimize construction costs. Roughly 25 per cent of the one-hectare site is set aside for the dog park.
The report also stated that the park is on a well-connected trail network, and there are plans to add a dozen angled parking spaces along Church Road for those who drive to the park.
A dog park has been mulled by council for more than a decade, with John Phillips Memorial Park and Whiffin Spit Park also considered.
The district launched a community engagement program specific to Pond’s Park Corridor this spring and found 40 per cent of residents supported the concept, with 15 per cent expressing opposition.
But a spokesman for the newly formed Sooke Ponds Corridor Community Association said the district was not taking the parks’ neighbours concerns seriously.
Members of the group sent numerous letters to council and presented a 68-name petition against the park to council.
“Our vision, or intention, is to encourage council to engage with professional dog handlers, kennel clubs and affected stakeholders, seek buy-in and come to a consensus, based on the the supportable, evidence of data and experience of other communities,” said Jim Giles, the association’s spokesperson.
Despite the association’s concerns, council approved the dog park by a 3-2 vote, with councillors Jeff Bateman and Al Beddows voting against it. Mayor Maja Tait and councillors Ebony Logins and Dana Lajeunesse voted in favour.
“I just don’t think the dog park will be used,” Beddows said. “I think people will just continue to run their dogs at John Phillips Memorial Park.”
According to a district staff report, many residents called for a fenced-dog park during the parks and trails master planning process.
“We need a dog park,” Lajeunesse said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re going to put a dog park; some people are going to be unhappy about it.”
Construction of the $81,500 project begins in September. The aim is to open the park in late fall. The dog park will also include a water fountain, benches, gazebo, trash cans and dog bag dispensers.