Amherst woman pitches dog park

Darrell Cole
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Proposal would see former park property used as leash-free facility

AMHERST - What Susanne MacLeod is proposing could be music to dog lovers.
The Amherst resident is proposing converting a small section of the former Dickey Park property into a leash-free dog park.
"It's an area where people and dogs can go and interact," said MacLeod, who recently moved to Amherst from Ontario where these parks are prevalent. "By law you need to have your dog on a leash. In a leash-free dog park you'll be able to your dog gets its exercise in controlled leash-free environment."
A dog park is a large, enclosed area where owners can allow their dogs to run off-leash with other dogs. MacLeod estimates there are more than 300 dogs in Amherst with between 30 and 40 per cent of households having a dog.
At present, dog owners have to take their animals to the marsh or to the bird sanctuary to let them run leash-free.
"There's no place in Amherst for people to allow their dogs to run freely and socialize with other dogs," she said. "Dogs need exercise to prevent problems for their owners."
MacLeod feels a dog park would be beneficial to the town in that it would help promote Amherst's reputation as an innovative, exceptional place to live in that it would provide a safe, secure site for owners to exercise their dogs.
She feels a dog park would provide a social setting for dog owners, promote higher compliance with existing laws, minimize the need for fencing in neighbourhoods where fencing is discouraged along with encouraging responsible dog ownership.
MacLeod's proposal is just one of several for the former park property.
One other proposal is for a disc golf park. MacLeod feels her proposal would work because it only requires a small percentage of the park property, roughly three acres out of the approximately 17 acres the park makes up.
She understands there may be some concern about a dog park, but believes those obstacles can be overcome. She said the park could be fenced in to prevent dogs from leaving the park and said the park would only operate during the daylight hours to cut down on noise.
There would also strict rules on use of the park. For example, all dogs must be properly licensed and vaccinated and owners would be required to pick up after their dogs and must closely supervise their dogs.
"It's a rather inexpensive idea because all you need is a couple of benches, a water supply and some garbage bins," she said.
MacLeod has presented her proposal to the town, but has no idea when she will get an answer. The town is in the midst of a study of the park's future use.

Geographic location: Amherst, Dickey Park, Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Kathy
    January 18, 2010 - 11:21

    Amanda, you reminded me that Curry Park used to have garbage cans for dog poop and other litter, and now there are none! Just a cold and smelly metal bench.......... the only time I like to carry warm poop in my pocket is in the winter.

  • Jason
    January 18, 2010 - 11:19

    Also a Dog thing would be great, I suggest something somewhere along the Marsh.

    January 18, 2010 - 11:14

    Yes Bring the pool back.... peeps used to run their dogs at Dickey Park in the evenings once the pool was closed. It's a shame another historic venue was torn down. But that's the way things go in Amherst. Takes an outsider to point out what we did have.

  • Jason
    January 18, 2010 - 11:05

    Another comment within an article in this paper speaks of a rumour that the YMCA will close. If so the Town of Amherst who shut down the only public pool in Amherst so they can rely on the YMCA should bare the blame.

    R.B. Dickey, a father of confederation, donated the land Dickey Park was on and this is how our Town Council treats our history.

    Bring back a Mayor like Mansour, or is it just that Amherst is a giant retirement home.

  • amherst
    January 18, 2010 - 11:02

    I think that the dickey Park should be made back into a public pool like it was ment to be, I learned to swim in that pool, a lot of great memories at this park. Where as a dog park that is also a great idea, there are many things that could be put on this property.

  • Darrin
    January 18, 2010 - 10:57

    Poop pickin' and the occasional mauling all in an enclosed area for the general public to view from a safe distance?! Screw Disneyland!
    Let the real games begin!!!

  • Amanda
    January 18, 2010 - 10:55

    I think this would be a great idea. I drive all the way to moncton now to take my dogs there to let them run free!

  • My 2 ¢
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    And I should add that I do support the idea of a dog park. I have memories of my brother and his dog at High Park in Toronto in the dog park area. We used to call it sniff and greet hehe. But unlike Toronto. a lot of people don't pick up after their dogs here.

  • My 2 ¢
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    Before we implement a dog park, the citizens of Amherst better get in the habit of cleaning up after their dog's poop. I have seen countless times where dog owners are either too fat or lazy to bend down to pick up the poop at the local running track/park at Willow. The same park where people play! I bet those dog owners wouldn't appreciate stepping on poop or worse, playing in it

  • Don
    January 18, 2010 - 10:33

    I think this is a great idea. It is hard to find an area close to town where dogs can be themselves. I don't mind picking up after my dog, but dislike having to keep him on a leash constantly. My dog is friendly & loves to play with others of his kind. I notice some people will not let their dog socialize with other dogs & I find this strange. Makes me wonder how they would like it if they were always hooked to a tether & were not allowed to talk to anyone. This should be a no brainer to town council, they have made an art of turning empty lots into parks. Maybe we can get one that will be used for more than photo-ops.

  • Amanda
    January 18, 2010 - 10:30

    Also, the ones in moncton have little Doggie bag box's hanging on the fences. So this might be an idea to help with clean up.