Gatineau modifies service levels for dog owners
Off-leash activities at Aylmer’s Parc Jardins Lavigne and two other dog parks in the city are here to stay, with municipal council announcing that they will be fenced as soon as possible. On April 12, Gatineau municipal council approved changes to its services for dog owners to conform to provincial legislation. Implementing a three-level service framework replacing the previous four-level program, the city will invest $300,000 to install fences at the following parks: Parc Jardins-Lavigne ($52,000), Parc de la Technologie ($41,000), and Parc du Lac Beauchamp ($45,000).
The city will also invest $90,000 to develop a canine exercise area (AEC) at an undetermined location, to replace the dog park at Parc Lamarche. The rest of the funding is dedicated to a communications campaign. Parc de la Technologie and Parc du Lac Beauchamp will be partially fenced (30,000 square-metres) while Parc Jardins-Lavigne will be completely fenced (42,000 square metres). At Parc Lamarche, only leashed dogs will be allowed going forward.
City spokespeople told the Bulletin it will collaborate with local canine clubs to determine exact delimitations of the fences. Until they are installed, off-leash activities at these parks, except for Parc Lamarche, will continue. Including the Aylmer Canine Club (CCA), Gatineau boasts four recognized dog-owners’ associations. The city also plans to deploy proximity off-leash dog parks in local neighbourhoods in the coming years - potentially bringing Gatineau’s total number of off-leash parks to 30. Residents will be invited to mobilize and apply to the city to develop a proximity off-leash park.
Neighbourhood off-leash parks must be located at least 50 metres (used to be 25 metres) from residences or 25 metres with obstacles, and 10 metres from playgrounds, with an entry lock at least 25 metres from playgrounds. The creation of local off-leash parks must be supported by at least 25 SPCA licensed dog owners from the same neighbourhood backed by a recognized residents’ association, a canine club, or the spokesperson of a signatory group. It must also be validated through a formal public consultation process.
Gatineau assistant director Luc Bard said the city’s administration won’t be able to complete consultations for the development of proximity dog parks this year. It will cost $60,000 to develop a 500 square-metre proximity off-leash park (fence, urban furniture, granular surface) and $75,000 for 1,000 square-metre spaces – and $62,400 for annual maintenance of four off-leash parks. AECs between 3,000 and 4,000 square-metres cost around $90,000 to develop (fence, trails, urban furniture).
Limited to two per sector, AECs must be managed by a known non-profit-organization of at least 100 members and be located at least 100 metres from residences, 25 metres from playgrounds, and include urban furniture. Despite planning on developing another AEC at Domaine Fairview in Hull, the only other ones in the city are at Allen Park and in Buckingham. Sports fields won’t be allowed for dog-related activities. It was initially proposed to allow leashed dogs on sports fields at specific hours of the day.
--Service level adjustments
Previously, Gatineau offered four service levels for dog owners.
Level one included 97 parks where dogs were prohibited.
Level two featured 250 parks or portions of parks that allowed leashed dogs.
Level three offered four non-developed off-leash parks maintained by the city.
Level four provided two 3,000-plus square-metre sites developed by the city for off-leash activities known as AECs.
Removing parks where dogs are forbidden as a service level, level one now provides neighbourhood parks designated to allow leashed dogs on walking trails – previously level two. The new level two includes a new service of proximity off-leash parks – enclosed spaces of 500 to 1,000 square-metres with a locked entry developed and managed by the city. The new level three includes AECs. The previous version of level three, which included non-developed dog parks, didn’t respect the law.
President of Gatineau’s Commission de loisirs, des sports, et du développement des communautés and Buckingham district councillor Martin Lajeunesse said it was imperative to improve services for local dog owners – with more than 20,000 licensed dogs in the city.