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Residents will have to wait for final decision about off-leash park

September 1, 2022   ·   0 Comments

Residents who live in close proximity to Hillcrest Park on Cowan Avenue in Alliston will have to wait a few weeks to find out what will happen with a new off-leash dog park in their neighbourhood that is already 85 percent complete.

The work on the site was paused after nearby residents voiced concerns that the dog park was being constructed without letting them know what was going on.

The leash-free zone is taking over a large grass area in the park.

Neighbourhood residents held a meeting with Town Councillors at the park on Tuesday, August 16, with many voicing opposition to having a dog park so close to homes in the area.

Friends of Hillcrest Park, a newly formed neighbourhood group, spokesperson, Jen Messervery addressed Town Council when they discussed a motion regarding the park in at Council Meeting on August 22.

“A far greater number of community members that reside directly surrounding the park have signed a petition to support the removal of the off-leash dog park from Hillcrest Park and it’s relocation to a more appropriate area,” Ms. Messervery said. “Specifically, 172 community residents signed our petition.”

The group lists three major concerns: no safe passage, elimination of a multi-use park, and the fact that the leash-free zone is in the middle of a high-density neighbourhood.

The group cites an increase of vehicle and pedestrian traffic, no sidewalks, and an absence of parking which will mean visitors parking on the street. Also discussed were safety and offensive odours that could come from the park.

Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Noye said the dog park was planned at the request of some local residents, but admitted that a public notice should have been posted letting residents know what was going to happen at the park.

He also said that when viewing the park after construction began, he thought it was “too big” for an off-leash park.

A couple of residents did speak in favour of the park, citing the fact that a lot of money has already been spent on construction of the fence and cement pads to be used for benches. It was suggested opening the park for several months as a test period to see if concerns are really valid.

Councillor Noye presented a motion that stated: ‘That Council direct staff to halt the project completion and remove all works completed from the site and restore the area to its original grass state. And further that staff be directed to determine an alternate dog park location and report back to Council with an anticipated construction date in 2023.”

Discussion followed where it was decided that due diligence would not be followed if this motion was carried out, and the motion did not pass.

Ward 3 Councillor Paul Foster presented another motion stating: “Council to direct staff to do due diligence on the dog park location including polling members of the public, and further, that staff report back to council at its September 26 meeting.”

This also will include a “cost analysis” of money already spent and cost to relocate the park.

This motion was carried.

By Brian Lockhart

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