Vancouver park board vice-chair Aaron Jasper seeking “equitable distribution” of city's off-leash dog areas
When Vancouver park board vice-chair Aaron Jasper told staff in 2011 to “roll up their sleeves” and re-examine the city’s “flawed policy” pertaining to off-leash areas for dogs, he said he was basing it on his own microcosm experience at Nelson Park in the West End.
“What we recognize is, look, we can’t exclude dogs and dog owners from this park, but we’ve got to find a way that they can come down, and everyone else can come down and feel that they can be safe and enjoy the space,” Jasper told the Straight in a phone interview. “Nelson Park was the first fenced-off park area that we had in the city.”
That was 2006, the two-term Vision Vancouver commissioner noted. Fast forward to 2012, and park board staff have sent notice that they are seeking input on its new draft guidelines to enable off-leash areas to “work for everyone”, according to a June 5 release sent by park-board communications coordinator Daria Wojnarski.
“New draft guidelines have been developed to help improve the Park Board’s network of dog off-leash areas,” states the media release. “They are based on principles endorsed by the Board and public comment to date, and include fencing, rules, location, design and signage. The draft guidelines are posted in a City of Vancouver online discussion forum 'Talk dog off-leash areas' where residents can converse with others and provide feedback over the next month.”
The current policy is “staggered” off-leash hours, according to Jasper.
“The park will be off-leash for a couple of hours and then it’s on-leash, and then it’s off-leash,” he said. “There is a lot of conflict between different user groups. And so, last summer I had directed staff to come back to us, and let’s get some draft principles, some ideas, all of it around the core idea that off-leash areas should be fenced off, or should have a physical separation from the rest of the park greenspace area. They’ve done that and they’ve gone out and gotten some feedback on some of the principles. They’ve fine-tuned it. We’re looking for some further feedback on what they’ve come up with.”
Staff will review comments and report back to the board in early summer. Further public consultation will take place on improvements to existing or new off-leash areas.
Improvements will start later this year, according to the park board release.