'It cuts their paws:' Councillor wants to resurface Leslieville dog park after complaints
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019 7:07PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 16, 2019 7:19PM EDT
Pet owners in the city’s Leslieville neighbourhood say that a dog park resurfaced with pea gravel two-and-a-half years ago by the city is burning and cutting their dogs’ paws.
In 2016, the City of Toronto spent about $178,000 upgrading Greenwood Dog Park, located near Dundas Street, after residents in the area complained about a bad odour emanating from the area. Residents also said that bacteria was becoming lodged in the crushed granite, on the surface of the park, and was causing problems for dogs’ paws.
In response to the drainage issues, the city resurfaced the park with pea gravel. But dog owners say the new turf is also injuring their pets.
“I try and avoid it in the summer because this gets so hot that the dogs can’t even walk on it,” said dog walker Ione Burns. “And it cuts their paws. I’ve had dogs literally burn all their pads clean off.”
Dog owner Claire Wichstrom said that her dog, Whitney, plays on the path along the perimeter to avoid the gravel.
“It really hurts her feet and sometimes when we’re walking home, she starts limping.”
City Councillor Paula Fletcher has submitted a motion to city council that proposes replacing the gravel with artificial turf specifically designed for use in dog parks.
“The pea gravel’s just cheaper to maintain and I think that's the reason why it’s in there,” she said.
In her motion, Fletcher cited safety and accessibility as her primary reason for resurfacing the dog park.
“While many elements have proven to be highly successful, the pea gravel which was installed as the new surface remains a significant and ongoing problem for many dogs and some dog owners,” the motion reads. “It is not accessible for dog owners who are sight impaired or use wheelchairs. Last year a sight impaired dog park user fell over due to the uneven surface and broke her guide cane.
Designing and installing the new turf would cost about $250,000.
“A quarter million dollars on something that’s pretty new, that’s a lot of money,” said councillor and budget chair Gary Crawford.
According to data collected by the Toronto Dog Park Community, 88 per cent of the people who identified their main dog park as being pea gravel said they were unhappy or extremely unhappy. About 72 per cent of respondents rated pea gravel as “poor or unacceptable.”
Dog owners in the area say that while it may be expensive to resurface the park, the city shouldn’t have used pea gravel in the first place.
“I just wish that Parks and Rec would just be like, you know what, our bad, let’s move forward and listen,” Katie Reid said.
City council is expected to discuss the motion on Wednesday.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Natalie Johnson