Vancouver dog owners were quizzed on what they - and their pets - wanted most as part of the plans, and it's going to look very different.
A Yaletown dog park is set for a complete re-fur-bishment with rain gardens, agility areas and a separate space for shy pooches after a public consultation was launched to bring the park in line with the city’s park goals.
Vancouver dog owners were given the chance to have their say for improvements at the city’s largest off-leash dog area at Coopers’ Park - next to the Cambie St Bridge and along the Seawall - earlier this year as part of the city’s People, Parks and Dogs Strategy.
Dog owners had complained in the survey response that there was a lack of lighting for early morning or late evening use, no shelter from sun or rain and a poor variety of types of play and socialisation for dogs.
The lack of fencing in the park was also criticized, with owners saying it left unclear boundaries to separate the off-leash area from use by other park users.
New features and amenities
In the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation’s revised design, which was approved on Monday, July 5, secure fencing to keep pets safe in the enclosed area will be prominent and will also feature a double gated entrance for extra security to stop pets from escaping.
A fenced “low-intensity” zone for shyer dogs has been drafted into the initial design concept at the north-east corner of the park.
Agility features favoured by the public in the survey response such as ramps, mounds and tunnels will become a staple of the scenic waterfront area, along with bubblers and jets as part of the rain gardens and water play areas to cool pets off in the summer months.
Yaletown dog owners will also see a synthetic turf dog run for games of fetch in the “high-intensity” areas of the park installed after petitioning the Park Board over the years about the degradation of the natural grass in the dog area - although natural grass will remain in other areas. Sand pits and a “pooch patch” dog waste area have also been drafted into the revised plans.
An accessible walking loop will also be included for owners to benefit from exercise along with their pooches.
Along with a full renewal of the off-leash dog area, the park will also include a giant octopus play area for children, an outdoor fitness center featuring exercise bars at different heights and sizes to look like a whale skeleton as part of the Pacific Northwest-themed regeneration.
The renewal of the park could be completed as early as Winter 2021 after construction drawings are developed and a contractor is selected to complete the work in the Fall.
The People, Parks and Dogs Strategy provides a framework for the next 10 years and beyond, to deliver well-planned and designed parks that accommodate park users with and without dogs and minimize conflict.
According to the strategy, field studies show that most of the time, people without dogs outnumbered people with dogs at most off-leash areas in Vancouver, and that 74% of Vancouver residents surveyed report having mostly positive or neutral interactions with off-leash dogs in parks.
The strategy also revealed some of the things currently working well in Vancouver's off-leash areas. These include building communities, clear boundaries, providing fenced options and grass surfacing in larger, less-intensively used areas, while challenges include managing dog waste, off-leash activity in on-leash areas, and managing noise.