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Hot diggety dog: city eyes potential beaches for Fido

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Troy Shantz

Dog paddling might soon be permitted at a Sarnia beach.

City staff is preparing a report examining the how and where a beach might be designated as a dog-friendly area, and at what cost.

“They’re all over the Great Lakes, all over North America basically,” said Coun. Bill Dennis, who proposed the idea.

“Let’s face it, many people consider dogs family.”

Dennis, who likes but doesn’t own a dog himself, said he’s received strong community support for the concept on social media.

Sarnia’s largest beach, at Canatara Park, has been ruled out due to its prestigious ‘Blue Flag’ designation.

“It’s basically based on environmental (reasons),” said parks and recreation director Rob Harwood.

Special permission was required to hold the annual Doggy Paddle Beach Fest without compromising Canatara’s Blue Flag status, he said. This year’s event, scheduled for July 20, was cancelled at the last minute.

Staff is looking into how dog-friendly beaches are operated in other municipalities and will likely recommend an existing model to council, Harwood said.

To make the area leash-free would require a built enclosure, and that would require permission from the St. Clair Conservation Authority, he said.

The report is expected in September, and it’s possible a dog-friendly beach could be in place for this fall.

However, if the cost is significant it would need to be considered in next year’s budget, he added.

“We just need to find a place it fits best… with everyone being happy about it.”

Pinery Provincial Park has a beach open to dogs, which are required to be leashed at all times.

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