Thursday, December 31, 2009

Who is to blame for Robert Park Drive Dog Park Closing?

I cringe when I see postings on Facebook with people saying "its because of irresponsible dog owners that Robert Park Drive dog park is closing in a couple of weeks".

It's true once again that fellow dog owners are our own worst enemies - because once again - we are blaming each other - and not the City - which is what we should be doing, for losing the only fenced in dog park in the HRM.

And before you get all huffy with me and say that it's not the City who is leaving their dogs' shit everywhere, just let me say - there's more to dog shit than just leaving it in a steaming pile. I've been writing about this topic since the off leash dog parks opened up in 2008 - and in one of my first posts about the topic when we started to have problems was -

What do I think would raise compliance and make people start picking up their dogs' poop?

1. Poop bags at all entrances to Point Pleasant Park.
2. GARBAGE CANS to put the poop bags in - and people to EMPTY THE GARBAGE CANS.
3. City staff in the parks to FINE PEOPLE who DON'T pick up their dogs poop.

Those 3 things would raise compliance by about 1000%. Right now people know that they can get away with not picking up their dogs poop. So why should they? If there's no consequences - there's going to be NO COMPLIANCE. It's pretty simple.

You can put all the flags in poop that you want. But if you don't give dog owners some tools to deal with the poop - you're being VERY disingenous. And unfair.

One of the things that regular users of the Robert Drive Park will tell you is that they NEVER say any Park Patrol there. And one of the things that the City of Calgary says is the KEY to their success is - constant monitoring.

I've written a lot of other posts about poop - the fact that the City is horribly neglectful about emptying garbage bins at the dog parks - so the garbage cans are always overflowing - so what's the point of picking up your dogs shit if you're only going to throw the bag into a can that's got twice as many bags as the bin will hold? And guess what happens in the winter? There's no winter maintenance WHATSOEVER. So if you put a bag in the garbage bin in November - it won't get emptied until April!!! How's that for good use of your tax dollars! I wrote about that in a blog post that you can read here - "people unhappy about state of dog parks" - after a couple people emailed me about the overflowing garbage bins.

So to me - it's not just the "irresponsible dog owners" who are to blame for the closing of Robert Park dog park - the City also must take blame - but you know they don't - they also only blame the dog owners. And that is not right.

They MUST step up to the plate and start enforcing and monitoring and give some kind of deterrence - so that dog owners feel like they have to pick up their dog's shit.

In the last couple of years the City has run commercials about littering on the television - and I'd bet a lot of people litter a lot less now because of it. I've also written a few posts about "what's the difference between litter and poop" - which has pissed some people off, but I'll stick to that analogy - because I think it's very valid.

I do not think it's okay to have shit in our local multi-use parks. I also don't think it's okay to have tons of tim horton's cups, cigarette packages, McDonalds wrappers, and various and sundry pieces of clothing lying around. But if we don't have any civic pride, if we don't have any worry about being fined for littering - whatever that litter is - then people are going to do what they like. And that's a fact. And simply because you can assign a demographic to a certain type of litter - and banning that demographic from a public space - is wrong. What would happen if anyone carrying a cup of Tim Horton's was banned from Point Pleasant Park? I think it would be an interesting night on the local news, that's for sure.

But for some reason - dog owners feel like they have to take it. My only question to you is - why?


  1. Excellent points - all of them.
    Here is one more thought - and an argument Off-Leash Calgary Society used to keep their parks dog friendly. Or tried to, I should say.
    Dogs poop once or twice a day - regardless if they are on the leash or off the leash. Owners too lazy to pick up will not pick up unless they are watched, regardless where they walk. I'd bet if Point Pleasant Park were all on-leash, there'd be the same amount of shit, cause a dog's gotta go when he's gotta go, and dirty people are dirty people and will leave shit for others to step in, and litter and dump their garbage in the woods unless, yes, Joan, they are heavily fined, and yes again, that responsibility lies with the city.

  2. Well hopefully some of those survyes that were mentioned in yesterdays herald .... the ones that hrm is sending out to get feedback hahaha.... will be sent to dog owners, eh?

  3. momtosix10:01 AM

    I would really like to know how people can't pick up dog poop that belongs to their own dog. I used to live in Dartmouth, I would take six, count that, six dogs to the dog park. And I did it myself. I was able to keep an eye on all six and pick up all the shit that came out of their butts!!! And I now do the same in Riverview. Were lucky here, the town loves us and if we call them, they are there to help us with more poop bags, to empty the garbage or to fix the fence if it breaks or something. But go to Moncton and the city does not care. So I also know what it's like to have a city that is against you. Good luck with the fight and look for this crazy lady in the summer as I'll be back in HRM.