Thoughts on our Dog Park
Things have gone seriously awry in the universe when I, a person who is not by any means a dog person and who likes them on the end of a leash and at a comfortable distance away (unless we know each other, in which case let’s throw sticks in the river) feels bound to step into the fray on behalf of the dog park users in Bertold Park. I never thought the day would come.
Briefly, Bertold Park has been used, officially or unofficially, as a free-run dog park for 30+ years and apparently there have been “no” incidents of biting or aggression. I have to say that I find that a bit of a stretch but I guess it just means none of serious note. Either way the place seems to have run quite happily and peacefully for over a generation. The dog people know where to go with their animals and the people like me who prefer our lives to be passed more peacefully have an alternative waterside access just along the road.
But then it was “discovered” that allowing free-run dogs on town property is against the bylaws and oh dear, the town might get sued if aggression happens. What to do, what to do? Personally, if I get bitten by a dog in the park then it’s the owner that I will be seeing in court, not the town and the dog will be getting a one way trip to the vet. Those who know about these things have stated that this is in fact the way these matters are intended to be handled – legal responsibility for the behaviour of your pooch belongs with the owner or the person responsible for it on that day and not with the landowner or the town. Seems simple, seems sensible.
Meanwhile, the headless chickens were running around in the council chamber (note – it was the previous council, prior to the election, who started this but the new guys inherited responsibility for the moment). The result being that Bertold Park now looks like the exercise yard to a penetentiary with ugly building site security fencing. Purely a temporary measure we are told until the council decide what steps to take next spring. What those steps might be seems unclear but there are only two options really – either replace the temporary fence with something more pleasing to the eye and more permanent or return the park and its arrangements to something close to the status quo ante.
The current result of this is that the dog people have formed themselves into a formal dog club and are erecting their verbal barricades against the council who inherited this needless imbroglio. Sparks have flown in the public council meetings already and we foresee flamethrowers being brought out in the future.
Meanwhile, a dog owner pointed out only this morning in the Baie-D’Urfé Our Town Facebook Group that the fence is not even doing what it was intended to do. The gate to the new enclosure is often left open and flapping while the ends of the fence near the water permit dogs to explore outside their designated area. Result – frantic owner trapped inside the fence and confused dogs outside trying to re-connect with each other.
So what, exactly, has been achieved?
The snow will be here in the next weeks and the temporary fence is going to be with us for six months or more … Citizen Marat feels it would be a very good thing if the council were to apologise for its knee-jerk reaction to a non-existent problem, promise to remove the fence as soon as spring arrives and guarantee to return the park and its rules to those which have operated satisfactorily for 30+ years. A truce and some good will are called for – is that so hard?
One of the “leaders” of the dog pack, this morning posted the following commen sense summary …
“The whole issue is a travesty! For a QUARTER of a century dog owners and residents have been able to successfully share the park space without the need for an ugly enclosure! Off leash hours were posted and were respected and there were no incidents of dog bites. This “temporary” fence is absolute overkill and is a slap in the face to every dog owner and citizen of Baie-d’Urfé who has enjoyed the park for a quarter of a century!!!! Let’s all work together to make sure that Council can’t hide behind an outdated bylaw which was never enforced for Bertold park and, in fact, a previous Council at a caucus meeting had approved that dogs could be off leash at Bertold park during specific hours”
Come on Baie-D’Urfé … as several of the independent candidates for election were saying only last month … “We can do better”.