A positive assessment for dogs in parks
One year after allowing dogs access to 258 parks in 2018, compared to the 25 parks where dogs were previously allowed, Gatineau presented a generally positive assessment of the presence of dogs in the parks.
At the November 5 plenary committee meeting, it was revealed that the Non-Emergency Call Centre recorded a total of 186 dog-related requests for 89 different parks in 2018-2019, compared to 136 calls about 63 parks the previous year, an increase considered negligible.
Among the requests sent to the Centre were 122 complaints, 57 requests for services and 5 requests for information. Aylmer is the sector that has experienced the greatest growth in terms of demand, rising from 30 to 58.
Jardins-Lavigne Park was the site with the highest number of complaints, with 17, and the City indicated that the complaints targeting the park dealt with the problem of cohabitation between people seeking to walk their dogs on a leash and the off-leash exercise park where dogs can move freely.
“There are certainly a lot of people using the park for different reasons, but there is enough room for everyone and I think the more people and dogs interact together on the premises, the better it will be,” said André Lemay, President of the Aylmer Canine Club.
One change Mr Lemay is proposing is to reassess hours of service and increase investments in animal control.
“Animal control works from 8 am to 3 pm, the times when the parks are least used. People come to the park before going to work, early in the morning, or after dinner. At the moment, we do not have the necessary staff to properly monitor,” Lemay said in an interview with the Bulletin.
Animal surveillance and control
As part of last year’s settlement, surveillance and resources allocated to animal control increased, but at the end of the year, the Animal Control Department only used $5,500 of the $25,000 budget that had been dedicated to this purpose.
In total, 69 requests processed by Animal Control, 25 patrols planned outside regular intervention hours were carried out and 988 park visits were made by Animal Control during the year.
Communication and living together
As part of the regulations, various measures have been put in place to communicate and inform the public.
A total of 525 signs were installed in Gatineau, for a total expenditure of $22,000 out of the $35,000 budget allocated for this purpose.
Leaflets on the regulations were also distributed through service centres, libraries, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and park wardens, as well as in veterinary clinics, pet shops and pet food stores.
Important changes to come
Despite a positive balance sheet, changes are planned for four parks in the region.
The city plans to ban dogs from the Jardins-Lavigne park site due to numerous conflicts with park users using sports facilities and play structures. However, dogs may continue to use the dog park, located in the retention basin immediately east of the park. Owners will be required to keep their dogs on a leash when travelling between the parking lot and the dog park.
Leamy Lake Park could be removed from the list of sites allowing off-leash dogs due to the presence of large game, but leashed dogs will continue to be allowed.
The eastern portion of Sanscartier Park could be removed from the list of sites allowing off-leash dogs due to the presence of wetlands and the difficulty of restricting dogs at large from wooded areas. It will remain authorized to dogs on a leash.
Dogs may be banned in Lavictoire Park due to the development of a new intergenerational health trail and conflicts of use between exercise trail users and dog keepers. This change will be discussed by the Board.
The city also says it is evaluating the possibility of setting up bins dedicated entirely to dog excrement at the entrance of some of the busiest parks.
Although improvements have been made, Councillors Louise Boudrias and Myriam Nadeau pointed out that there are dog park regulations in Gatineau, with the Pointe-Gatineau Councillor even stating that “Gatineau is light-years away from what is being done in other cities like Ottawa.”
The councillors targeted the city’s “extremely restrictive” territorial area with Ms Boudrias emphasizing that “it takes an immensely large park to authorize the canine exercise areas that people want more and more.”