Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Germain off-leash dog park no longer a bone of contention

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Dog owners backing an off-leash park feel like they have the world by the tail now that a permanent site has been approved.

It took five years and a lot of work to win the city over, says Analia Davis of the Sarnia Off Leash Committee.

Members kept pushing for a place dogs could run free even after two earlier proposals failed.

Last year, council agreed to a one-year pilot in Germain Park with two fenced areas, one for large dogs and another for small and senior dogs. It was such a success councillors voted last week to make it permanent.

“What a sense of relief,” said Davis.  “This reflects how well it’s been accepted by the community.”

The dog park hasn’t been without growing pains.

Some users needed education and there were a few problematic pups. Bylaw enforcement officers visited the site daily to check for licensing compliance.

Officers received three complaints about aggressive dogs.

Off Leash Committee volunteers helped with public education about the rules and, since June, there have been no more calls.

“It’s fantastic,” said Rob Harwood, the city’s director of parks and rec. “I think people anticipated this thing would be awful with noise and aggressive dogs. But it has turned out to be none of those things.”

The vast majority of people surveyed by the city said they feel the Germain facility is a safe environment.

“It was evident that the two earlier proposed locations weren’t going to work well because of other nearby activities, but this one is wildly successful,” Harwood said.

The city has earmarked $8,000 for improvements including benches and concrete pads at the gates.

The committee intends to fundraise to provide other amenities such as lights and agility equipment for the dogs.

Davis said her committee would love to see another municipal off-leash park, but is focused first on educating the public. Privately owned Blackwell Trails opened Sarnia’s first dog park.

An ambassador program is being set up to help users understand the rules.

“You can’t just take any dog into that forum,” said Harwood. “It’s a matter of helping dog owners understand that.”

The dog park is beneficial to more than pets, he added.

“Our goal is to get people active and fit. So using open space in this manner is ideal.”

Germain’s off-leash park is located near the Bright Street parking lot and is open daily 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Rules and further details are available on the Facebook page: Sarnia Off Leash Parks & Zones.

More like this