Sunningdale woman digging up support for off-leash dog park

A Sunningdale dog owner pushing for an off-leash park for pets to run free has her eye on grounds that have been slotted for a Kinsmen Interpretive Park.

A Sunningdale dog owner pushing for an off-leash park for pets to run free has her eye on grounds that have been slotted for a Kinsmen Interpretive Park.

Monica Averill is circulating a petition that asks residents to support the development of an official off-leash park, as she says the location that Trail currently has at the Gyro Park boat launch is too small for the population of Greater Trail and is unusable in the spring when flooded.

“I think we are at the stage where people say, ‘Yes it’s time, it’s a good idea and we need this’ but nobody has actually sat down and put their heads together and thought where would be a good place to put it,” said Averill, who has approached the Kinsmen with her idea and is brainstorming for other potential places prior to making a presentation to Trail council.

Trail Community in Bloom formed a partnership with the service club to develop an environmental park on Hillside Drive in 2006.

While there was much hype then about the park that will tout pathways linked to educational exhibits, the project has been at a standstill since key players left the club.

“Our Kinsmen Park was originally designed to be an eco-park and we want to keep as close to that concept as possible,” said past president Mitch Rinas.

“Now that we have a chairperson in place who’s interested in seeing it through, I think the two ideas could coexist together but it’s just a matter of finding out how.”

The potential for a section designated for an off-leash area was brought up at the group’s meeting Monday and will be discussed at upcoming meetings.

Rinas said the club would want to ensure there is support from the city and its residents before jumping the gun.

Beyond the boat launch, dog owners bring their pets to an “unofficial off-leash area” beside the Beaver Creek Park, which is owned by B.C. Provincial Parks. But Averill wonders about the future of this amenity since a new sign posted on site warns dog owners to keep their pets on leash.

A few years ago, the restrictions in the city’s Animal Control Bylaw specific to dogs at Gyro Park were updated to include restricting dogs from Bingay Bay.  This was a decision of council and was done as a result of public complaints about dogs in that area.

Averill feels that dog owners are losing the few public areas their pets can run, play and socialize and would like to see a new fenced-in space created.

“It transcends the local boundaries from where it is because you get people coming from all over the Greater Trail area and from out of town to come to the dog park to use the space,” she said, adding that she brings her dogs to parks alike in Nelson and even Kelowna. “I know that my dogs are guaranteed to have a good time when they’re there, they’ll meet a lot of other dogs, they can go for a long run and we’ll both get exercise and it’s just a win-win situation.”

She has already collected over 100 signatures and encourages residents who would like to see an off-leash area developed to add their names to the petition available at Barks and Recreation Pet Services in Trail or the SPCA and at Tails Pet Supplies and Services in Rossland.

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