Monday, September 16, 2013

Creating a Dog Park in Pelham

Town Council recently agreed to work together with the Region toward the creation of a dog park in Pelham in 2014.

In May 2011, members of the public presented Council with a 200 name petition to request that the Town establish an off-leash dog park in our community. They cited several benefits, including: offering a place to promote responsible dog ownership and to hold dog related events; providing an easier place for elderly and handicapped owners to take their dogs; providing exercise and social benefits for both people and dogs. Council directed staff to develop a report.

In June / July 2011, a number of residents formed a coordinating group called “Pelham DOGS” and presented the idea to Council again. Council directed staff to work with Pelham DOGS, and referred the matter to the Town’s 2012 Capital Budget.

During the pre-budget public consultation meeting that October, Pelham DOGS presented a survey showing that 63% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the idea of a dog park for Pelham.

In December 2011, Council approved earmarking $35,000 in the 2012 Capital Budget toward a park. Council directed staff to work together with Pelham DOGS and recommend possible locations before proceeding further.

In August 2012, staff reported that dog parks are the fastest growing areas of municipal recreation services in North America and that dog owners currently use general parks and playgrounds as areas to exercise dogs. Staff recommended constructing a park on the former landfill on Centre Street (just north of Regional Road 20); after much discussion, Council directed staff to seek permission to use those lands from the Niagara Region.

After a year of planning with the Region and representatives of Pelham DOGS, staff proposed a design and a proposal to Council:
- The Region would retain ownership of the land, will maintain the park, and continue accept all liability for the property. (This is similar to the Port Colborne dog park and other public uses at closed landfills across Niagara.)
- The Town will begin to rezone the property and will contribute $35,000 toward the park’s construction;
- Pelham DOGS will contribute (via fundraising) $10,000 (Please see for fundraisers like the community BBQ at Giant Tiger on October 12 from 11 AM to 2 PM.)
- The Region will seek approval for the remainder of the construction costs – approximately $66,000 – in their 2014 Capital Budget.

This plan was approved by Council (in a 5 to 2 recorded vote) on September 3. While a few important hurdles remain, the finish line is in sight for constructing and opening a dog park in Pelham in 2014.