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Amherst digs into dog park discussions

Town of Amherst Senior Planner Andrew Fisher lead the first of three workshops aimed at getting public input on bringing a dog park to the community.
Town of Amherst Senior Planner Andrew Fisher lead the first of three workshops aimed at getting public input on bringing a dog park to the community.

Every dog gets its day, and that day could be soon here in Amherst.

The first of three workshops to explore the need for a dog park and where it would go inside the community got underway Aug. 8th at the Community Credit Union Business and Innovation Centre, with a number of dog lovers coming out for the noon lunch-and-learn session.

The workshop came with the caveat nothing has been decided, and it will be public input that shapes staff’s recommendations to council.

“This isn’t an announcement. We haven’t decided where the park is going to be or what it’s going to look like. That’s why we’re having these meeting,” Amherst Senior Planner Andrew Fisher said.

Six locations are being presented for consideration, ranging in size from under half-an-acre up to 1.5. Some, like locations on Donald Avenue, Park Street, Motor Avenue or Beacon Street, would give new life to unused land, while proposals for Dickey Park or retrofitting a ball field at the Robb Complex would offer existing parking, but come at the expense of repurposing the properties.

Break out sessions during the workshop asked participants to consider different locations for a dog park in Amherst, and identify areas they felt would be helpful for other amenities that promote walking, including water fountains and waste receptacles.

Some of the participants at Tuesday’s session have experience with taking their pets to other community dog parks already, so much of their considerations leaned towards finding a similar experience at home.

“When I lived in Dartmouth I took my dog to Shubie [Doggie Park]. Space is good, because you get multiple dogs in there,” Steve Wells said.

Dog parks often have an area for large dogs, and a second for smaller ones, participant Kim Campbell said.

New resident Eleanor Ripley says after a lifetime of living in the country, she would like to see her pet enjoy a little freedom.

“I want a place I can go to let the dog free, but I also don’t want a place where we’re going to destroy the natural environment,” Ripley said. “I’m tossing with the idea if I like a dog park or not.”

Following an explanation on best practices and proposed regulations and considerations already working in a number of communities already with dog parks, much of the discussion trended towards the public offering input on where they would like to see a dog park while exploring their current walking habits to see if there is something more the community can do to enhance living in the border community.

Two more workshops to discuss a dog park coming up and the Town of Amherst will be held at 7 p.m. at the innovation centre on Aug. 17 and again at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7. The workshops are open to anyone, whether for or opposed to a dog park in the community. After the workshops, staff will give their findings to Amherst Town Council to decide its next steps.
For more information email or call 667-3352.


What are common dog park practices?

• Dogs must be licensed or registered  with the municipality

• Warning tickets or fines for offenders

• Owners must be present and within view of their dogs at all times

• Owners must have a leash at all times

• Holes dug by dogs must be filled in by owners

•  All feces must be picked up by owners

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