Motion to keep Guelph’s fenced-in dog parks closed to go before city council

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Both of Guelph’s fenced-in dog parks could be closed for good if enough city councillors get behind a motion being presented at a meeting on Monday evening.

Ward 3 Coun. June Hofland is expected to introduce a motion that calls for the gated areas at Bristol Street and Peter Misersky parks to close over COVID-19 fears.

Read more: Construction on Guelph’s 2nd fenced-in dog park to begin this month

Both parks are currently not open for use. The one at Peter Misersky Park is undergoing some adjustments to address some concerns from nearby residents and construction has not been completed on Bristol Street.

The two parks are scheduled to open later this year.

In her motion, Hofland said council needs to find a clear path forward by directing staff to investigate a location for a fenced dog park that is not located in a residential area.

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“With the arrival of COVID-19, it is essential that we reconsider these small fenced areas,” she said.

Hofland added that the city should be opting for a larger leash-free area that will accommodate physical distancing for dog owners.

Read more: Guelph researchers study coronavirus infection in pets

Her recommendation is that the two parks be closed until staff find a place for a fenced-in area in a non-residential area that would then be included in the 2021 budget.

Her motion will need six other votes, the majority of city council, for it to be carried forward to a final decision in September.

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie said he would not be voting in favour of Hofland’s motion because there are no concerns from the city’s emergency operations control group or the Ontario government related to COVID-19.

As per the province’s reopening plan, dog parks were allowed to resume operation in Phase 2.

“It is up to the individual resident to be mindful of sanitizing their hands after touching high-touch contact surfaces like door handles and gate latches,” Guthrie said. “Likewise, it is also up to everyone to maintain physical distancing.”

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Those using the fenced-in areas would not need to wear a mask, as Guelph’s public health unit has not mandated masks outdoors.

Read more: Guelph’s fenced-in dog park to remain open, plans for 2nd park continue

Guthrie also pointed out that a larger non-residential area park is already being examined and reviewed by staff. That report to city council is due back in the fall.

While no delegations will be allowed to speak on the matter until the final vote in September, Guthrie is encouraging residents to email the city to voice their opinions.