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Toronto councillor wants city to build more off-leash dog parks

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A Toronto councillor wants the city to adopt a new approach to off-leash dog parks, including more areas for pet owners in dense urban centres.

There are 75 off-leash areas in Toronto, but councillor Chris Moise says they were not planned “as a network” and are not representative of the populations living nearby.

“Entire wards have no off-leash areas,” Moise says in a letter being presented with his motion to committee next week.

“The design of new off-leash areas has improved significantly in recent years. However, some challenges persist when seeking to introduce new off-leash areas in dense urban environments. A clear, transparent, and evidence-based approach is needed to guide decision-making and facilitate effective designs that balance a variety of park uses in these environments.”

Moise says there are about 300,000 dogs in Toronto and that many of the city’s high rises have between four to eight pets per floor. These statistics don’t include “pandemic puppies,” or pets purchased during provincial stay-at-home orders, he added.

“Dog owners use parks every day – sometimes multiple times a day – all year long, in all weather. We must plan for the new normal.”

He is recommending that city council review international best practices for off-leash dog areas and identify and fund new ones where needed.

His motion also calls for the repair of existing off-leash areas and to review the policy in place under the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan.

“The city’s 2010 Off-Leash Policy is brief and no longer sufficient for the needs of our growing city,” his motion reads. “Developing an evidence-based, best practice approach to Off-Leash Areas and integrating this approach within the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan is the only way to address all ongoing issues once and for all.”

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