Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How many complaints does it take to close a dog park in the HRM?

So how many complaints do YOU figure it would take to get a dog park closed in the Halifax Regional Municipality?

You'd figure that it would take quite a few, because dog owners DO pay taxes, we DO deserve to get some benefit from those taxes, and the indiscretion of a few bad apples shouldn't make every dog owner suffer for the few. If there are complaints - increase the monitoring at that particular park - and increase the fines at that park so that the people who are being bad will stop being bad. That makes sense, don't you think?

Well here in the Halifax Regional Municipality - the bureaucrats and elected officials don't seem to want to do their job that way. They have shown time and time again - that they have a hatred for dogs and their owners that borders on the submlime - and they're showing this proclivity once again with the very well used, and much loved Robert Drive Park dog park in Dartmouth.

It's a super popular park for people to take their dogs to because it's completely fenced in - and dog owners who aren't completely sure that their dogs have perfect recall like the fact that this park is fenced in - so this park gets a lot of use - and is getting more use all the time as word gets out.

The city told no one that the park was supposed to be closed for the month of May so that the park could "reseed" itself - so they blamed dog owners and have closed the park now for the month of June, and have extended it into July - but they've also added something else to the Off-leash parks strategy page on the City's website about the Robert Drive Park dog park and said the following -

HRM has recently received complaints concerning dog owners who are abusing their off leash privileges at the Robert Drive off leash sport field. The signs at the entrance to the field clearly show that the field is open from Nov 1- May 1 and from June 1 - Nov 1. The field is closed to off leash use in May to allow for grass to regenerate in worn areas of the field. It's evident that some dog owners have continued to use the field during May. The field has been severely impacted and will likely be closed to off leash use during the month of June in order for the grass to return.

Complaints have also been received concerning dog owners who have unleashed their dogs while children are playing in the field. Please remember that children come first. If you arrive at the field and children are playing then please wait until they have left the field before unleashing your dog. It is also evident that some dog owners are not cleaning up after their pets.

The field is a shared resource. It is not intended for the exclusive use of dog owners. The HRM Interdepartmental Off Leash Parks Committee will be meeting on June 19 to consider the future of the sport field for off leash uses. The field may be closed permanently for off leash activities if dog owners continue to disregard these basic rules.

A regular user of the Robert Drive Dog Park - Tara Bayne - contacted the city, and animal control, to try and get some statistics to see what the complaints were that had been called in and how many of them there were.

And guess what. There have been TWO COMPLAINTS called in about this park. Two complaints from the public are going to close this park. The HRM Interdepartmental Off Leash Parks Committee is going to meet and contemplate closing this much needed and well used dog park based on TWO COMPLAINTS.

Can you believe this?

How many dog owners are there in the HRM? How many dog owners use off leash dog parks in the HRM? And TWO COMPLAINTS are going to close down one of those off leash spaces?

Can you spot the inequity here?

Do you think that perhaps the City is listening to the wrong demographic on this subject?

I hope I'm not the only who's feeling sick to their stomach right now.


  1. Anonymous8:16 PM

    How many complaints will it take to close the HRM Interdepartmental Off Leash Parks Committee?

    -Marc & Jenny

  2. So, my latest update is that of the two complaints they say they got, when the AC got there the 'perpetrators' were not there. So, IMO, there was no proof that the 'infraction' had taken place.


  3. .. and PS -
    The sign which said the park was closed from May 1 on, was next to a tree, no where near the gate. If they had a sign next to the gate, then I would have noticed it and not used the park when it was seeding and closed. The placement was by the old gate which was taken away last fall.

    However - in fairness to the city, i get that the grass needs to regenerate, however drainage is a problem in the park and I suspect that some of the problems are due to the fact that the ground in those areas doesn't drain, and like most of Dartmouth, is clay like soil and very wet.

    But if people are using it now that it is closed and clearly marked (it is alleged that some people came in a back entrance with their dogs) then they are ruining the efforts of good dog owners who are responsible and respectful.


  4. Unfortunately a city biased against off-leash dog enthusiasts is not just reserved for the HRM. Calgary had the same issues where Parks closed and restricted numerous areas that were off-leash to on-leash of off dog. Apparently due to complaints and/or erosion. The facts that the alleged complaints weren't backed up and it was proofed that the erosion was caused by many off-trail mountain bikers (very popular in cowtown) did not make any difference.

    You are absolutely correct, Joan. If there are complaints, by-law should show their faces a tad more and fine the perpetrators. Since all dogs should be licensed, it shouldn't be too difficult to ban owners that don't play by rules from all off-leash parks. Fine the deed.

  5. Tracy Perry10:06 AM

    Great post! My dog is a regular user of this park and we miss it so much. I can't believe that all this was because of two complaints. This is absurd. There has got to be more that we can do about this, even though we shouldn't have to.

  6. Anonymous1:48 PM

    As usual,dog owners refusing to acknowledge the truth in addition to thinking that people 'hate' dogs.

    Fact is, dogs off leash cause significant damage to turf. So that is reason enough to temporarily close a dog park, especially if others use it.

    Read the comments above: its all denying the reality of off leash dogs in public parks.

    Just because you pay taxes DOES NOT entitle you to exclusive public space. DOgs are animals and unique park users in Canada because they are the one animal that can cause great harm to the turf as well as to people, espcially children. Nowhere does it state that your pets have 'rights' to publicly-funded space.

    Consider yourselves lucky with what youhave because people should not 'own' animals and expect the public to accommodate them.

  7. Aahh - Mr. De la Rosa - I see you're still coming and checking out my little blog, here. So nice of you to leave nice positive little comments - seeing as how you know our local dog scene so well.

    You may ask - how do you I know it's you leaving this comment above here? I do have my own means to find these things out. I'm not as smart as you, but I can find some things out in this 21st century interweb world.

    Why don't you just keep your stupid, unnecessary, negative comments down there in Los Angeles where nobody cares about them down there either?

    Fuck off, and stop harassing and stalking us up here in Nova Scotia, Mr. De La Rosa.

  8. Dogs do damage turf. So do cars, parking lots, open air concerts, sport fields, tennis courts, ski hills. Oh yes, how much pesticides are used on golf courses. Pesticides are believed to contribute to cancer and endocrine imbalances in people - and children.
    If there is one animal that is detrimental to both the turf and its own kind it's humans.

  9. "DOgs are animals and unique park users in Canada because they are the one animal that can cause great harm to the turf as well as to people, espcially children."

    Never ever have i read anything this ludicrous.

    The ONE animal that can cause great harm to the turf... people and children?!?. No, I think that there are other animals who in fact cause more damage. And, as already posted, the species most responsible for damaging turf - not to mention the greater environment walks on TWO legs.

  10. From outside of Halifax, the general impression is that Halifax is one of the least dog-friendly cities in the world. Park closures are extended at whim to punish you for having a dog off-leash. Then there's the dog, Brindi, who despite being praised by the shelter as being a wonderful dog, seems to be a hostage for whom no ransom has been requested. She and her owner just hang in limbo and for all I have read, I cannot see how or why.

    What's up Halifax? Vote your animal control kingpins out and start over with a clean slate.

  11. Anonymous8:20 PM

    I still would like to know whether AC ever charged the guy who stabbed the St. Bernard after his own dog attacked it. It was off-leash on Windmill Road -
    but AC will show up in a park to fine people for off-leash dogs?
    Why are they so keen to lay charges for some things and not others? I agree with Beni.

  12. Actually Beni - at the street level - on a day to day basis - living with our dogs and going about our business - Halifax is actually very dog friendly. Things on the internet don't always appear as they seem. And sometimes - things on the internet are even a complete illusion, as is the case with some of the things on the internet about the city of Halifax and things going on. So don't worry to much about dog friendliness and our beautiful city - it is a great place for dog owners and their canine life companions - it is a beautiful shangri-la if you know where to go and how to have fun.