January 6, 2018 7:18 pm
Updated: January 6, 2018 9:10 pm

Pilot project underway at newly fenced-in Lauderdale off-leash dog park

WATCH ABOVE: Many off leash dog parks in Edmonton have been around since the 1990s. And the City of Edmonton is now on a mission to see what can be done to improve them. It's doing some testing on a park in the north end. Julia Wong went to find out what Edmontonians think about it.

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A pilot program at Lauderdale off-leash dog park is already receiving positive feedback from Edmontonians.

Concerns over the safety of dogs near busy roadways along the perimeter of the park caught the city’s attention and, last year, it added fencing around the entire area. It also fenced off a smaller portion for small and shy dogs.

READ MORE: Off-leash area in Edmonton’s Grand Trunk dog park to be fenced by city

Dozens of dog owners visit Lauderdale off-leash dog park on January 6, 2018.

Julia Wong/Global News

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“We’re going to be looking at 311 concerns. We’re going to be making sure we don’t see any safety issues with dogs, especially when it comes to nearby roadways, parking lots, etc. We’ll be taking a look at how many new people are visiting the park,” said Amanda Brown, the city’s parks program coordinator.

“We also want to take a look at the fence design itself since we haven’t done fencing in many other sites. We want to look at the height of the fence, the style of the fence, are people generally happy with it, and are we finding dogs are jumping out of the site.”

READ MORE: City of Edmonton plans to fence in dogs 

Brown said many of the city’s off-leash parks were established in the 1990s. The Lauderdale site is being used to test out recommendations from the city’s Dogs in Open Spaces Strategy; the changes implemented at this site could be transferred to other parks across the city.

Brian Clemens lives in Castledowns and enjoys bringing his dog Ted to the park. There have been some close calls in the past though.

“He’s chased coyotes across into the train station there, across four lanes of traffic at seven in the morning – very close to getting hit,” he said.

Clemens said he is grateful for the new fencing.

“It’s just more secure. I’ve noticed a lot more people coming here now because they don’t have to worry about the traffic.”

Neil Brennan lives a couple blocks away from the park and said, prior to the fencing being added, he could not bring his huskies to the park.

“We couldn’t let them off-leash because, you know huskies, they just like to run,” he said.

“Now with the fence we can cut them loose and not have to worry they’ll run to the trains or onto that busy road.”

Sujatha Fernando was a member of the Grand Trunk Off-Leash Dog Park Committee, which first brought the issue to the city’s attention. Her dog used to run into traffic; she said the fencing has changed the dynamic of the park, including how many people now use it and how much of the park they use.

“We are going along the perimeter. We can go all the way around. Usually, people were all in the middle of the park because there are three big arterial roads around here,” she said.

The dog owners said they want to see action like this taken at other dog parks in the city.

“If they could do this at a few other dog parks in the city, I’m sure they’d have more people coming out instead of just walking their dogs on-leash,” Clemens said.

It’s an opinion Brennan agrees with.

“I would say definitely more fenced-in dog parks would be beneficial for the dog owners,” he said.

“Dogs are runners right? The safety with the fence is probably the owner’s number one concern so they’re not worrying [the dogs] are going to run into the trains or the traffic.”

Brown said more upgrades are on the way for the Lauderdale dog park, including more trees and shrubbery and increasing the number of bag dispensers at the park. Other changes include signage with new branding, concrete platforms in heavily used sections of the park and installing pee posts for the canines.

The pilot project is expected to wrap up in spring 2019.

There are two other off-leash dog parks with fencing, the Alex Decoteau Park in downtown Edmonton and the Paisley park in the city’s southwest quadrant.

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