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Why a dog park development in Dorval isn’t sitting well with everyone

Click to play video: 'Dog park development in Dorval not sitting well with some dog owners' Dog park development in Dorval not sitting well with some dog owners
WATCH: Dog owners who use Dorval's Surrey Park are upset over plans to fence in a forested area to make a dog park. As Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports, the owners argue there was a lack of transparency and consultations when drawing up the new plans – May 4, 2021

A newly approved fenced-in dog park development in Dorval’s Surrey Park has local dog owners barking over what they call a lack of transparency and consultations.

The City of Dorval recently approved the financing of a $46,000 development in the wooded area in Surrey Park next to the airport.

The money would go towards plans to build a fenced-in space for dogs and their owners.

The new designated area would measure 240 metres by 60 metres and would allow owners to let their dogs run free off-leash.

Read more: Dorval proposes fees for picnic table rentals at popular city parks

“I just flew off my lid. There was supposed to be transparency and there wasn’t,” resident and dog owner Michel Bienvenu said.

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He is one of many dog owners who have voiced their opposition to the city’s plans.

Pamphlets and petitions line the trees throughout the swampy green space.

Bienvenu walks the wooded trails daily with his best friend Rascal. He says about 100 or so people do the same.

“This is a small oasis in the area where we can let the dogs off the leash,” Robert Broca said.

Broca enjoys the freedom of the park so much he makes the trip from his home in DDO at least three times a week. He says an enclosed space would ruin this “gem.”

“Essentially it’s already fenced in. It’s an invisible (fence) — you have to stay in this area… Everyone already respects the rules,” Broca said.

The proposed dog park would cover less than half of the original green space.

“This is wild; that’s why we come here,” Bienvenu said.

Known as the Surrey Dog Run, long-standing city signs permit dog owners to allow their pets off-leash without facing a penalty.

Despite these signs, the city says the wetland “is not an actual dog park. It is simply an open space where people bring their dogs,” city spokesperson Sebastien Gauthier said.

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“The city’s plan is to build a true dog run.”

Complaints from local residents concerning dogs being off-leash are the main reason for the implementation of the fenced-in area, the city said.

“It will bring peace of mind to other residents who do not have dogs and who use the green space for other activities, as they will no longer need to fear about unleashed dogs.”

Read more: Contentious dog park in La Prairie temporarily closed as citizens take city to court

“We haven’t had any problems,” Bienvenu said. “We have seen people come in here without dogs. We welcome them, we just let them know it’s off-leash.”

Local dog owners say they wouldn’t mind seeing a fence completely surround the entire green space so that the animals can run.

“If you fence a place in, dogs’ character changes. They need room to move. If they fence the whole, that’s fine — dogs will have room,” Bienvenu said.

The city says it is working with the selected contractor and plans to go through with the original layout.

An official date has not yet been set for the start of the project.

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