Council would support volunteer-led dog park

LITTLE CURRENT—Northeast Town council had a deputation from Ward 4 resident John Royal at its August 23 meeting, requesting council consider a dog park for the Town of Little Current.

Mr. Royal suggested three options as potential sites for a Little Current dog park: an area at Spider Bay Marina, the horse ring near the arena and, tongue in cheek, Turner Park.

Mr. Royal said Spider Bay Marina was the preferred option as it is close to downtown and would be good for locals and visitors alike and incorporates other public assets already in the area including Low Island Park and Sisson Park.

He also noted that this location has washrooms located nearby, one side of fencing is already in place and he noted the area is currently underutilized.

Mr. Royal said he realized council had discussed the option of locating a dog park outside of town but said he believes a dog park should be part of the community, pointing to Billings’ dog park located in Kagawong. Mr. Royal told council he drives to Kagawong on a regular basis, and while he’s at it, spends some money there too.

He explained that he also spoke with Billings’ municipal staff who told him that in the eight years since the dog park was opened, there has not been one incident.

“Most people are responsible dog owners,” he said.

The dog park was again brought up for discussion at council’s September 4 meeting.

CAO Dave Williamson reminded council that they did pass a motion a few years ago approving a dog park at Mountainside Estates, the former trailer park located behind the Manitoulin Flee Market (near the landfill). (The municipality owns this property.)

“The cost to open one at the time was $43,000,” Mr. Williamson added, noting that Bleu Fisher and a group of volunteers were to take it on if they wanted to see it to fruition and raise the funds needed, primarily to cover the costs of fencing the area.

“Spider Bay Marina is run as a business with 120 seasonal boaters,” the CAO continued. “It would not make sense to set a dog park next to the boaters,” Mr. Williamson added, likening it to placing a dog park next to a motel.

“There are people other than Little Current people that have dogs,” Councillor Bill Koehler said. “I wouldn’t support Spider Bay either.”

“We looked into this,” Councillor Marcel Gauthier said. “Wherever it is, people are going to have to drive to it. I’m not for it, but as a last ditch would support the horse ring,” an area behind the recreation centre used by the Manitoulin Light Horse Club on Haweater Weekend for their competition.

“I am 100 percent behind this,” said Councillor Laurie Cook. “Failing anything closer to downtown, I would support the horse ring. People are driving to Kagawong every day. This is a really good solution and good for community development.”

“So it’s just a matter of $43,000?” Councillor Michael Erskine queried.

Mr. Williamson nodded his head, ‘yes.’

“We just don’t have $43,000,” said Councillor Bruce Wood. “Until they want to do it, they need to raise the funds.”

Councillor Cook said the municipality should support it in theory and carry insurance, letting the volunteer group do the work.

Councillor Erskine suggested staff look for dog park funding.

“I see this as an opportunity like the fitness centre was, where a group gets together and raises the funds,” said Councillor Melissa Peters. “The town should just be a support.”

Councillor Koehler said he would also be fine with the horse ring location.

“The horse club deserves a heads up,” said Councillor Dawn Orr, suggesting members of this group be consulted on the joint use of this municipal asset.

All but Councillor Peters were in favour of using the horse ring as a potential dog park

“It needs to be a group effort and the group should have to report a plan to council,” Councillor Peters added.