Port Coquitlam residents and park users have until Sept. 24 to give their “pawsition” on adding shared off-leash areas to select parks and trails.
To meet growing demand from dog owners, the city is considering launching a pilot of shared off-leash areas this fall. Shared off-leash areas are clearly identified non-fenced sections of parks or trail where dogs can go off-leash during specific times. Locations and times are selected to create as little conflict as possible with other users, and non-owners are welcome to use shared spaces at all times.
Dog owners and non-owners can learn more and complete a survey at www.portcoquitlam.ca/offleash until Sept. 24 and enter to win a $100 gift card to use at the City’s recreation facilities. The confidential and anonymous online survey will find out what people think about shared off-leash areas, potential locations and hours, and the challenges and opportunities.
Information displays will also be set up over the coming weeks at city facilities, parks and events.
Port Coquitlam has two fenced dog parks, which are currently the only public places in the community where dogs are permitted to be off-leash. On the north side, the Shaughnessy Park Dog Off-leash Area has a park-like setting, trail circuit and separate fenced small-dog area. The south side is served by the smaller Downtown Dog Off-leash Area, which has a wood chip surface and is not as suitable for large dogs or active play.
However, the dog parks can be busy during peak times and many neighbourhoods are not within walking distance to them. Off-leash dogs are regularly seen along Traboulay PoCo Trail and in local parks, including some with busy playgrounds and sports fields, such as Gates Park. This prohibited off-leash activity raises concerns about safety, dog waste, and damage to sports fields and ecological areas.
The idea behind shared off-leash areas is to improve service to the thousands of Port Coquitlam dog owners in a cost-efficient way, while steering off-leash activity into designated spaces away from sports fields, playgrounds, high traffic areas and environmentally sensitive zones. The concept has been implemented successfully in communities such as Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam and Abbotsford.
The pilot shared off-leash areas would be clearly identified with signage at all entrances of the shared off-leash areas stating the hours, rules and guidelines for users. There would also be a heightened staff presence during the pilot projects and introduction of any new shared off-leash areas for education and enforcement purposes.
“Off leash” does not mean “out of control.” Dog owners would be expected to keep their dogs in control at all times, make sure they are not violent or aggressive, observe proper dog etiquette, pick up after their dogs and be on-site at all times.
The results of the survey will help the city determine if the idea has merit, and if so, where the pilot project will take place this fall. For details, visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/
Port Coquitlam will follow Coquitlam’s lead to allow dog owners to walk their off-leash pooches in select parks and trails. City staff are now surveying residents as to where it can launch its pilot program.