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Dog owners hope new off-leash park proposal will finally succeed

Published on

Cathy Dobson

City Hall has proposed yet another location for an off-leash dog park, and hopes this time everyone runs with it.

The new plan targets an unoccupied area of Germain Park, between the Sarnia Lawn Bowling Club and defunct Germain Arena. The one-acre site has plenty of parking, nearby washrooms, is easily accessible and is well lit.

It also addresses many of the issues raised by prior dog park proposals that were ultimately abandoned, said Ryan Chamney, Sarnia’s acting parks and rec director.

“We’ve looked at a lot of options and feel this is the best one,” he said.

Two years ago, city council approved a leash-free park adjacent to Clearwater Arena, but stiff opposition from the baseball community nixed that one.

Last year, a dog park was suggestion for Centennial Park near the Humane Society. That concept didn’t make it as far as city council chambers

This time around, staff eyed Tecumseh Park and Sherwood Park, but picked Germain as the best location for a one-year pilot project, said Chamney.

Staff worked in consultation with the Sarnia Off-Leash Committee, a group chaired by resident Analia Davis, who has been lobbying for a municipally-owned off-leash dog park for years.

“We are very excited about the Germain Park proposal,” Davis said.  “It has everything we’ve asked for all along.”

Having a city-operated, fenced area for pooches to run is important given the large number of dogs in the community, she said.

“Sarnia probably has more dogs per capita than most cities in southwestern Ontario, but we are the only city in our region without a municipally owned dog park.”

A dog park is available at Blackwell Trails Park on Blackwell Road, but it lacks shade, water, and washrooms and has poor accessibility, she added.

“We are very appreciative of it but it’s private so we have no say in it,” Davis said.

“It’s been a bone of contention that we pay for dog tags but that money isn’t spent by the city on a (leash-free dog) park.”

The Germain proposal calls for the area to be divided into two sections, one for shy, senior and small dogs; and a larger section for all breeds.

Other features include walking paths to the area, a five-foot fence, two double-gated entrances, and a service entrance, said Chamney.

The proposal can be viewed at

A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 8 from 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Strangway Community Centre. Input gathered there will be incorporated in a final staff report to go to council in October.

“This is important because we currently have nowhere to exercise or socialize our dogs other than Blackwell,” said Davis.

“And a happy, exercised dog is a good dog. Our group has already contributed $5,000 toward it and we will continue to fundraise.

“Someday we’d like to see solar lighting and a doggie splash pad there as well.”

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