New off-leash park would increase convenience for owners, he says

Ward 9 Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra called a community meeting in Acadia in April to discuss the possibility of reinstating an off-leash dog park in the neighbourhood.

Carra cited the positive impacts that dog parks can have on communities, including social interaction and the promotion of healthy living.

The meeting will take place the evening of April 25 at the Acadia Recreation Complex, or ARC, located at 240 – 90th Ave. S.E. The meeting will address public concerns surrounding the possible location of the park and its proximity to playground space.

Video produced by Lauren O’Hare and Megan Bilton

“Should a community the size of Acadia—10,000 people—have an off-leash dog park within the actual community? I believe the answer is yes it should and we have to find a way to make it fit with some of the other uses that are there,” said Ald. Carra in a telephone interview April 8.

The closest off-leash area for Acadia dog owners is currently located at 9800 Blackfoot Trail S.E., on the west side of the Blackfoot sound wall. The space for the proposed new park sits at 8402 Ashworth Rd. S.E., on the east side of the sound wall, and would provide a closer alternative for most residents in the community.

At Southland Drive and Deerfoot Trail S.E. sits Sue Higgins Park, a popular off-leash spot for Calgary dog owners.

The high volume of traffic Sue Higgins Park sees on a daily basis makes it a useful barometer for gauging public opinion on the issue. A number of owners interviewed expressed their concern about whether the proposed new park will be properly enclosed.

Some of the daily users of the Southland dog park say they have been attending less frequently because some owners are not paying proper attention to their dogs.

Photo by Megan Bilton“I live near Acadia so that would be good for me, but the fact that it’s adjacent to a playground does concern me a little bit,” said Shauna Elcott, the owner of seven-year-old-dog Madison.

“A lot of dogs are really scared of children and don’t like children and there’s always problems that could arise with children not being educated with dogs and running into the park—and things like that.”

In the wake of problems around the city with dogs attacking other dogs and sometimes going after humans, some owners are now concerned about taking their own dogs out to public off-leash areas.

“Off-leash doesn’t mean out-of-control,” said Marie Curby, who has been bringing her dogs to Sue Higgins Park for 15 years. “It’s just too rambunctious. And there’s no responsibility.”

These concerns and others will be addressed at the April 25 meeting.

“We have to be smart about it and that’s just what we are doing on the 25,” said Ald. Carra about the upcoming meeting. “Laying out all the potential options and the potential problems and having a conversation with the neighbourhood so that we can move forward.”

The smaller parks allow dog owners to socialize their dogs close to home when they might not be able to make it to the larger parks during the week.

Ald. Carra said, “What we are talking about is a more ‘chillaxed’ walk-to location. It would be serving a different demographic and a different intensity.”

lohare@cjournal.ca
mbilton@cjournal.ca