Summary from the Public consultation 11 October 2018
Proposals and Options for a Shared solution for Bertold Park
Note and Disclaimer: Since we do not have a copy of the presentation, this summary is simply some highlights in order to inform citizens of what options were presented and some reactions from citizens. The sketched “map” to illustrate the 2 options are not precise as they were quickly sketched during the presentation. The picture(s) taken by iPhone are not very clear however one version has been included for information and illustration.
The mandate given to the consultants (HEDA) who designed the Westmount dog park was to analyze “all” the very extensive complaints and issues as well as to take into consideration some best practices. All material submitted by citizens from letters to one full proposal with extensive details was analyzed and a site analysis was performed. The criteria used included (but are not limited to) an average of 32,290 sq. ft, distance from residences, parking and shade, access for snow removal etc. Some additional criteria were added such as lake access, set-back, enough parking, no off-leash dogs outside the fenced area which resulted in a recommendation of a fenced parking area and access to members only.
In addition to the actual canine recreational area options, the containment of dogs when swimming in the water was also addressed. This included various options (with no final recommendation however ideas were proposed). Ideas such as a floating deck which would not only contain the dogs but also possibly provide access by people and at the end floats to contain the dogs. These would be taken away in the winter where access to the lake from the area is no longer possible which also addresses safety issues.
Not included in the presentation or first phase option illustrations were ideas such as double gated entry as many dog areas have, benches, open roof shade area, drinking water for people and dogs, and additional garbage cans. These were not included in a first phase and were simply ideas for reflection.
The two options that were proposed were Option A: canine recreational area on the East side of the park and Option B: canine recreational area on the West side of the park. Option B was very similar to one of the options that was examined by PRAC and also similar to the proposal that was submitted by the Canine Friends GECAC association which also included considerations of containing the dogs once in the water (although a simpler method).
Although we were not able to read much of the detailed information on the slide the consultant while answering a question from a citizen on size, indicated that Option A was 41,350 sq. ft and Option B was 42,500 sq. feet. Note: we quote this under all reservation as it was not legible where we were located. It is also not clear if this area includes the fencedin parking space or only the recreational area.
The following rough sketches taken quickly on-site provides a visual idea of the two options. A small iPhone picture is included for the reader to be able to have a rough visual comparative view of the sketches
Phone picture of the HETA slide showing both options. Note the white lines indicate the general park area and the red lines indicate the Canine recreational area. Also, an explanatory note on the division inside the canine area: a fence close to the water can be closed in winter when the floats or docks (whichever options would be considered) are taken away for the winter.
Question period followed and as expected there were two camps of opinions; those who have since the beginning clearly stated that they want no compromise and no sharing and that any canine area must be expulsed from Bertold Park. And there were those who strongly supported a shared compromise canine area for whom this small slice of waterfront area (used for the last 30 years) was extremely important. The comments were extensive and will not be covered in this document (the consultation was close to 3 hours). It was pointed out that the canine community considered this as an activity not just for their dogs but also for their families, kids, elderly and that a 6% of the total waterfront of Baie-d’Urfé with a small strip of land was not much to ask even if this recreational activity may not be recognized by some citizens. Many of the comments attempted to pitch “humans versus dogs” or “kids against dogs” meaning that both were incompatible. The Canine families indicated that these were true family activities for them and not mutually exclusive.
Citizens were asked to comment and indicate a preference of Option A or B (or neither). Those who were strongly for maintaining a shared multi-purpose park for canine families were all for Option B (with the exception of one citizen who felt both options had their merits). Therefore, for the Canine community a strong preference (nearly unanimous) was Option B. For those who were against any compromise or sharing (multi-purpose park) the message was clear – it was clearly stated that neither option was acceptable and since the beginning to them no compromise should be considered. Due to the very controversial nature of the discussion we have decided not to attempt to document all comments as either side may feel that their points of view were not wellrepresented.
Although detailed comments are not being included, we do wish to include certain points that were important to both parties. The main point of focus that was highlighted by both parties was the need for enforcement (which as a side-note most successful canine recreational areas have in some manner). This is where an indication was given that these points on management and enforcement will be examined and taken into consideration.
The question of cost was also raised and part of the next steps will include a high-level estimate of possible costs since any canine recreational area (regardless of where it is located) would require an investment. It was pointed out by one citizen that this recreational activity was no different to the incumbent canine families than other activities in Baie-d’Urfé (private clubs with limited members including a certain number of nonresidents) where the Town covered the basic infrastructure and certain maintenance costs. A citizen also questioned on what the process would be in terms of next steps (including the approval or not of any solution whether it be Option A, B or neither) and related cost estimates if applicable.
The meeting was closed with Mayor Tutino thanking all for their frank input and that a Caucus meeting would take place on Friday morning (12 October) followed by a Special Council meeting on Monday the 15 th October