Plans for an off-leash dog park in Sackville have been delayed until next year.
With proposed costs coming in much higher than anticipated, town staff have recommended the project be put on hold until there is proper funding allotted.
Jamie Burke, senior manager of corporate projects for the town, told councillors that the proposed dog park, which would include two fenced-in areas (one for smaller and another for larger dogs), brought with it an estimated $80,000 pricetag. That is more than triple the amount the town had available in this year’s budget for the project, which would have been derived from funds set aside for Beech Hill Park upgrades.
“So we’re saying instead of pursuing that in a very elementary stage with $25,000, we would look to push that to a 2020 capital project and do it right,” said Burke, “and do it in a way that can be expanded into 2021-2022, depending on the use the park gets and the feedback that we get from residents who start to use it, particularly where it’s our first one.”
For the past couple of months, town staff have been consulting with Viridis Design Studio, a landscape architectural firm, on the dog park, and has also been having discussions with representatives from Amherst and Riverview, who have developed off-leash dog parks in their communities.
He said one of the key pieces of advice received from these consultations was to build the two separate areas rather than just one fenced-in dog park. This, of course, means more funds would be required for fencing. Other suggestions in the designs also include structures for shade and seating, waste receptacles, holding areas, and the addition of wood chips or stone dust so the parks don’t become too mucky.
The off-leash dog park is proposed to be located in the large field area on the left-hand side of the road as you drive in to Beech Hill Park, just before the parking lot area.
Coun. Bill Evans said he supports staff’s recommendation to put the park on hold and “do it right.” Although he’s not a dog owner himself, he knows there are many residents who are and who would appreciate this project.
“One of the great things about this town is that we do something for everybody and this is a really big, nice thing, or will be I think, for a significant part of our constituents and so I think this is great,” he said.
Results from a recent survey have shown strong support for a dog park in the community. The survey, conducted this summer, drew 472 responses, with 91 per cent of respondents saying they were in favour of the idea. The survey also drew input on potential locations, features and design of a park and any ideas/concerns that people may have.
The idea of a dog park has been one that has been raised by residents a number of times over the past few years – including the recent consultation process for the town’s recreation master plan and the Exit 506 planning study.