Dogs in a dog park. (Photo by sinseeho / iStock via Getty Images Plus)
Chatham

UPDATE: Off-leash dogs in Blenheim, Tilbury told to sit for now

The reports brought forward regarding the off-leash dog parks in Blenheim and Tilbury were voted through unanimously at Monday night's council meeting.

Council voted on both as part of the consent agenda, with no discussion or deputations made.

Original article was published on June 21, 2024.

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The Blenheim off-leash dog park could finally be moving forward after a few stumbles, while the Tilbury dog park could change direction.

A staff report going before Chatham-Kent Council Monday night recommends authorization for the dog park committee in Blenheim to begin fundraising.

In 2021, Council approved the stormwater retention area near Snow Avenue and Little Street South in Blenheim as the future site of the dog park, but no community members volunteered to form a committee responsible for the operation of the park.

Volunteers finally came forward last year after another call to action and held their first meeting seven months ago, at which time it decided to formally notify the municipality of its intention to fundraise for the construction of the dog park and manage its operation, according to the municipality.

Some nearby neighbours also communicated their opposition to the park due to its proximity to them and some members of the public even communicated their opposition to the location because its too close to St. Anne Catholic School, citing safety concerns.

Administration threw cold water on those concerns saying the fenced area will be 50 metres from the closest home and the stormwater retention pond is also located between the fenced area and the school property.

The dog park committee will be responsible for the cost of building and operating the park, including fencing and benches, while the municipality will be on the hook for collecting and disposing the garbage, grass cutting, parking lot snow removal, and minor maintenance and inspection activities not typically covered by the committee totaling about $12,500.

The municipality would also be responsible for the $25,000 cost to build a small parking area near the fenced area to improve accessibility and reduce walking distances, along with a walking path to the fenced area, and garbage containers since the area is not a municipal park.

The report recommends that the municipal capital and operating costs for the Blenheim dog park be referred to the 2025 budget, adding that the dog park won't be allowed to be constructed until budget approvals have been confirmed.

Meanwhile, the Tilbury dog park could be going south, literally.

The municipality said it will be exploring the property around the Tilbury Arena after the public cited concerns around the proposed site at Kirkham Park.

A report going to Council said Kirkham Park has a lack of parking, is too close to recreational spaces used by children, and will disrupt neighbours.

Administration said the arena has a parking lot, playground equipment, a splash pad, washrooms, a ball diamond, three small shelters, and open green space.

The Tilbury dog park will also be discussed at the Council meeting Monday evening.

Staff is recommending development of a landscape plan for the area around the arena with consideration given to a potential dog park along with other identified recreational needs.

Administration added this plan would be developed in 2025 and would be informed through the community engagement process.

"The delay of a DOLRA (dog off-leash recreation area) designation in Tilbury will also allow time to assess the extent to which a new dog park in the nearby community of Comber, announced in March 2024, may impact anticipated demand or volunteer support within Tilbury," wrote Manager of Parks and Recreation Ian Clark in his report.

This is the third kick at the can for a dog park in Tilbury.

In 2011, Council approved the development of a dog park at Northside Park in Tilbury following an application from a volunteer committee. However, the committee decided not to develop the park citing concerns from the public and disruption to the park.

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