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Kincardine dog park well-used, needs better maintenance,
say users

By Liz Dadson

The Pet Page

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A group of dogs gets to know each other at the KIN-Dog Off-leash Park, located south of Bruce Avenue, east of the Kincardine Cemetery, beside the Legion ball diamond in Kincardine (Ward 1)



The dogs check things out in the enclosed dog park



Time spent at the dog park is as social for the dogs as it is for their owners



Rules are laid out for use of the park

The KIN-Dog Park in Kincardine is well-used but not well-advertised or kept up.

That's the word from users of the park, located south of Bruce Avenue, east of the Kincardine Cemetery, beside the Legion ball diamond in Kincardine (Ward 1).

About 20 people and their dogs were enjoying the park last Wednesday evening.

Jim Brennan, a regular user of the park, said there are usually a dozen dogs interacting at the park every day, and often many more.

"This facility mainly flies under people's radar," Brennan said. "The municipality does very little maintenance there compared to other recreational facilities. However, it is used by many people - locals and visitors. This summer, we had a regular visitor from Richmond, Virginia, who was staying in Kincardine at a family cottage."

The dog park is a great place for dogs to interact and play

Brennan said there are many regulars at the park and it is a very social climate for the dogs and their owners.

"The park is one of the nicest in any small town in Ontario," he said. "It has lots of little doggy trails and enough trees to shelter you from the strong summer sun and the fall and winter winds."

He said the majority of the upkeep is done by volunteers, and this year, for some reason, the water was turned off before the end of September, so users have to bring along bottles of water for their dogs.

In addition, there is a poop bag dispenser at the park, but no bags, said Brennan. And a double-gated entrance was supposed to be built to keep the dogs under control as they enter and exit the park.

Kincardine councillor Jacqueline Faubert spearheaded the creation of the dog park which opened three years ago.

She said the facility was proposed and funded through the efforts of a group of citizens and businesses in Kincardine. The group was committed to enriching the quality of community life through responsible pet care awareness and the establishment and maintenance of a recreational area where dogs and people could interact in a clean, safe and pleasant environment.

"It is a community project designed to satisfy the needs of dog owners and non-dog owners, alike," said Faubert. "The park is very much a volunteer effort that relies on the spirit of co-operation in the dog-owning community. This is how the park was initially proposed to the council of the day."

When asked about the current location and whether the park was going to be moved to the former Ward 1 landfill, once refurbished, Faubert said there was discussion on moving the park to a larger location, potentially the former landfill site.

"No discussions on the eventually use of the landfill site have been initiated so those plans are in holding," she said. "Feedback from park users has generally favoured the current  location as optimal. Over the past 18 months, many have advocated for the implementation of a small-dog park in the current location. Others have vehemently opposed that, citing lack of space. If a bigger off-leash park becomes part of the plans for the refurbished landfill, the small-dog area could be a possibility. This decision will be made with community input and consultation."

Recreation director Karen Kieffer echoed those sentiments, saying the current park was considered a temporary location but there have been no discussions about moving it. There has also been no discussion about future uses of the former landfill site which was proposed as a permanent location for the dog park.

Regarding complaints from users that there is no water at the park, Faubert said there is water available, provided through the nearby irrigation system, thanks to the efforts of Chris Hartwick of the public works and parks departments.

"There have been some maintenance issues with water access but mostly resolved through the park staff and in consultation and co-ordination with park users," she said. "Year-round access to water is not feasible with our climate."

Kieffer said there was one time this summer when somebody turned off one of the valves that supply water to the park, but staff responded and had it back on. The water was turned off Sept. 24.

When asked about the plans for a double-gated entrance at the park, Faubert said that proposal still exists.

"It's funding for this system that we are waiting for, along with co-ordination with the fencing company," she said. "Fencing is expensive. The implementation of the park and fencing requirements involves co-ordination with several levels of staff and users. Staff must still be able to enter to cut grass, maintain bushes, etc., with machinery. There are funds available for this system in the dog park account, managed by the municipality."

As for the absence of poop bags in the dispenser, Faubert said that is it hoped most dog owners would remember to bring bags to the park.

"The dispenser is an added bonus for those days when we forget or have a 'double load'," she said. "We are co-ordinating with a regular park user to refill bags when the dispenser is empty. This co-ordination will also involve ensuring that bags are properly stocked."

 



Kristin Steinman of Kincardine with her dog, "Bailey," at the KIN-Dog park in Kincardine



Ross Pegg of Kincardine with his dogs, "Daisy" (L), "Rosie" and "Holly"



Empty poop bag dispenser

The KIN-Dog park seems to be a well-kept secret in Kincardine and the surrounding area, according to users.

Faubert said most people find out about the park through word-of-mouth, family, friends, occasional media write-ups, businesses downtown such as Pet Valu and K9 Education, and for tourists, through the local tourist guides.

Kieffer agreed that most of the traffic comes from word-of-mouth. However, future plans are for the park to be included on municipal signage as money permits. The signage for the Dog Park would also likely include the soccer fields and Legion Park.

As for maintenance and upkeep, Faubert said any complaints go to either herself or Kieffer.

"In the past, these complaints or issues (wasp nests, problems with water, need for wood chips, trimming trees, strange white substances, etc.) have been responded to within 48 hours," Faubert said. "Complaints about dog- and owner-related behaviour are directed to the appropriate agencies (police or bylaw officer)."

Kieffer said the parks employees cut the grass at the dog park every other week, and respond to other concerns as they are made aware of them. Usually, users contact her or Faubert.

Faubert added that although users come and go in the natural rhythm of dog park use, there remains a core group of users dedicated to the mandate of the park.


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Tuesday, October 02, 2012