By Terrance Gavan
If anyone has not seen the movie “DogPark” I highly recommend it.
It’s about life, love, obedience, obeisance and managing boundaries.
Susan MacDonald is a dog-lover. She’s also a dog breeder who wants to provide Haliburton’s many dog lovers with an off-leash dog park.
MacDonald appeared before Dysart et al’s Glebe Park Committee on Tuesday (Oct. 4) asking them to consider fencing a part of Glebe Park – in off season, entailing about nine months of the year, excluding summer – and turning it into an off-leash haven.
Dysart et al’s municipal by-laws state that dogs could only be off leash while on private property – or during hunting season.
MacDonald is one of only three breeders of Australian Koolies inCanada, and she’s works part-time as a dog groomer.
Her appearance at the Glebe Park Committee is the first step in a long bureaucratic process – yes, she is aware that it’s a novel idea – that will eventually entail getting approval from Dysart Council.
“We don’t have an off-leash space in Haliburton right now,” said MacDonald at her home shortly after the Tuesday meeting.
She told Glebe Park Committee Chair Jim Blake that she’s done the requisite due diligence and has even priced out the total cost of fencing the proposed area which would be located between the Museum and the Cross-Country Ski Chalet.
Deputy Reeve Bill Davis was concerned about costs and especially just how much Dysart would be asked to commit to the off-leash proposal.
MacDonald said that the cost for fencing – fully installed – would run to approximately $15,000. She added that she would like to integrate with the cross country ski club to discuss the parameters of their usage requirements to ensure that the dog park would not unduly stress members of the cross country community in Haliburton.
The dog park use will be restricted to spring, summer and autumn and will be divided into separate areas for large and small dogs. The fencing/gating will be taken down during the tourist season.
MacDonald started a face-book page – The Haliburton Off Leash Dog Park Facebook group – at the beginning of September and she explained that it already has close to 100 members.
Her plan includes a novel idea to offset the cost of the fencing and maintenance.
“Right now dog owners are required to spend $10 per year to register dogs in Dysart et al,” she said. She told the Glebe Park Committee that her plan would include a $25 lifetime fee – life of the dog that is – set by the municipality and that only owners with that tag would be allowed into the off-leash park. She insists, she said later, that this strategy would encourage dog owners who want access to off=leash space to get a license.
If you weren’t aware that your dog should be licensed in Dysart to the tune of $10 per annum? Don’t worry. It’s a by-law that is almost wholeheartedly disregarded by most of the dog-owners in the municipality.
Davissaid that there were some big concerns with that change in policy and said that it would have to be discussed by council.Davisdid not sound too positive about the viability of the option, but MacDonald is sticking to her guns on this point.
She cited the large number of dogs in the area (in the five figure range including cottagers) and said that if 650 dog owners decided to opt for off-leash status and registered at $25 per pet? That alone would pay for the fencing. Couple that with yearly additions, grants and fund raising and MacDonald is firm in her conviction that this is a fiscally viable project that would provide a service and end up costing the municipality very little. She thinks that the Facebook response alone indicates that a group of concerned citizens could actually provide impetus for the $25 dog registration in the municipality.
Chairman Blake thanked MacDonald for her input and said that theGlebeParkcommittee would table the motion for “philosophical considerations” at a later meeting of the committee.
Google Facebook/ HaliburtonDogParkor go directly to https://www.facebook.com/groups/250748524963275/
firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/terrancegavan