Pets

HRM considering more off-leash dog parks

Council motion was passed Tuesday for staff to look at options

Rosie and Sophie, two standard poodles, are taken to Point Pleasant Park on a daily basis.   Ross Andersen

The Halifax Regional Municipality is looking at adding new off-leash dog parks in Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage and Purcell’s Cove/Spryfield.

Regional council unanimously passed a motion on Tuesday for staff to research where these new dog parks might be. Currently, there are eight off-leash dog parks in the HRM. Two are in Dartmouth, one is in Bedford and five are on the Halifax peninsula.

“Adding more off-leash areas will go a long way to address some of the problems we have at Shubie Park,” said Coun. Tony Mancini, during the meeting.

Mancini said Dartmouth’s Shubie Park is so busy on weekends, it seems like it’s regularly being discussed in council.

There have been several trespassing and noise complaints related to dogs at Shubie Park, according to the Halifax municipal website.

In 2007, a pilot project was started to assess the needs and problems associated with off-leash areas. The results, presented in 2015, indicated there has been an increased demand for these parks.

In addition to the eight parks, there are 28 sports fields that are designated as seasonal off-leash areas. These areas are only open at certain times during the year and some are fenced in — compared to parks like Point Pleasant Park, that have trails and multi-purpose uses.

Mancini said dog ownership is a privilege and owners need to be responsible. He said he looks forward to implementing more parks, as it would decrease some of the volume at Shubie Park.

Dog owner Ian Austen tries to avoid Shubie Park. The Halifax resident takes his two standard poodles to Point Pleasant Park every day.

“Shubie Park has a very limited area that’s dog friendly,” Austen said in an interview.

Ian Austen feeds treats to his two standard poodles.   Ross Andersen

The HRM doesn’t know how many dogs there are in the region. It issues 16,000 dog licences per year, which officials believe represents only one-third of the actual dog population.

“If you’re looking for off-leash areas in your community, get your dog licensed because that’s how we gather information on the dog population and where these facilities are needed,” said Coun. Lisa Blackburn in council.