Off-leash dogs banned in Boucher Forest?
Editor’s note: Press time is a day prior to the city council meeting
On April 17, 2018, the City of Gatineau plans on proposing changes to the 183-2005 Bylaw regarding “pet custody, control and care” in its territory. Adoption of the proposal is scheduled for the May 15 council meeting and new regulation should be effective as of June 1, 2018. The regulation marks dog access to different City parks. Except for a few areas designated “off-leash dogs”, dogs are banned from most parks, even with a leash. Dogs are usually permitted in areas where security permits and according to City criteria.
The announcement of the complete banning of dogs in the Boucher Forest came as a surprise to the Fondation forêt Boucher as well as to the Club canin d’Aylmer. The Club is opposed to this ban while the Fondation says its mandate does not include decision-making on this particular aspect since the City owns the majority of the land.
The Fondation forêt Boucher does not own the land and is not mandated to manage the territory. Nonetheless, the City has mandated the Foundation members’ expertise to develop a master plan that will indicate the major orientations regarding intended uses for the future park. The master plan is presently being developed and should be completed by August 2018.
The Fondation forêt Boucher doesn’t own the land and its mandate does not include managing the territory. Nonetheless, the City has mandated the Foundation’s members’ expertise to develop a master plan for the major orientations with regards to foreseen uses of the future park. The master plan is currently being developed and should be completed by August 2018. Adrian Corbo, President of the Fondation, and Mike Duggan, Deschênes District Councillor, say that this must be done in line with the Foundation’s mission which is to protect this natural space.
Mr. Corbo says he is having discussions with groups involved and show openness towards the future park’s orientations: “we are open to their suggestions... The master plan is a collective effort. Decisions should not be taken until the plan is adopted.” Regarding the changes to the regulations, the Foundation’s position is clear, says Mr. Corbo: “we do not position ourselves on banning dogs or not. The priority must be the preservation of the forest and that it can its use be opened to as many as possible.”
With the proposition of changes to the bylaw to be tabled April 17, Mike Duggan reiterated his intention of “considering the Boucher Forest as an exception”. He hopes to “remove the Boucher Forest land owned by the City from the list because it requires an exceptional treatment,” he states.
According to Mr. Duggan, the City’s work in this file has been to “look at the potential in the list of parks to open some to dogs.” For Mr. Duggan, it is clear that to maintain the dog ban in certain parks must be maintained, namely those located closed to schools. Faced with pressure from the canine side, the Councillor reminds that “the primary goal in the conservation of the Boucher Forest was not to have an exercise space for dogs.” After the Club canin d’Aylmer invited its members to oppose the change in regulations, Mr. Duggan says he received emails he considers as aggressive and that in such circumstances, discussions cannot be constructive.
The mission of the Fondation forêt Boucher is to “protect, preserve and enhance the flora and fauna” of this forest. In order to succeed, the Fondation implements many actions of which: the acquisition of new land and developing its land with projects that aim to preserve this ecosystem. The Foundation also wants to “educate the public on the importance of protecting the Boucher Forest.” September is “Boucher Forest Month” when many awareness activities are usually held.