Langford dog owners have launched a petition to get the city to rethink its plans to make significant changes to one of the region’s largest off-leash dog parks.
The city is undertaking improvements to Danbrook Park which will see the fenced-in dog area get smaller in order to adapt the space into a multi-use park. But the dog owners behind the petition, which now has more than 700 signatures, worry the changes will mean they will lose one of the few large areas dogs can run free.
“The reason (the city) has given me for the changes is that the people of Langford are asking for more green spaces, which I can appreciate,” said Tricia Law, who started the petition. “I appreciate they are also adding more dog parks around, but large dogs need space to run and socialize, and those little dog parks won’t do it. This one as it is now is large enough, shaded, fenced in, it’s a safe space that anyone can come to.”
The size of the park as it is today is the most important element, Law said, and is a key reason why the park is so well used by dog owners. Just before noon on Wednesday, there were around 15 dogs and people of all ages at the park, and Law said it is usually even busier in the mornings and evenings.
The shade provided by the park’s large trees is also important for dog owners, as on hot sunny days other dog parks, such as the recently opened one on Station Avenue, are not healthy for dogs to use as the ground gets too hot from the lack of shade.
Beyond being an important space for the dogs, Law said the park has also been an important resource for their owners, as it has provided a safe space to socialize during the pandemic, bringing with it many mental health benefits.
While she has no objection to the park being changed to make it multi-use, Law said she would like to see more public consultation with the city to determine what changes would work for all of the park’s users.
In an April 28 parks, recreation, culture and beautification committee meeting, director of parks, recreation and facilities Yari Nielsen said the changes to the park are being discussed in order to increase the park’s accessibility for all residents as the downtown core becomes increasingly populous.
He said there is also a need to restore the park’s grass as it has been worn down to dirt through heavy use, and there are concerns the park’s mature trees are at risk.
Early plans for the park changes would see roughly one-third of the total park space designated for dog use, with the remaining two-thirds of it restored to more general park space, featuring walking paths and protected areas surrounding each tree.
In an email to Black Press Media, Nielsen said the city has hired a biologist to assess the park and its effect on the trees, and the city has “taken feedback from the residents, and are adjusting our plans” from what was shown in the presentation, though the new design work is not yet complete.