City hopes dogs on the beach won’t become a bone of contention

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Plans are underway to have a dog-friendly beach open in Sarnia early next year. Photo by Jenilyn Sheppard

Tara Jeffrey

Analia Davis hopes a dog-friendly beach will be a reality in Sarnia by next year.

“One of the biggest complaints we hear from dog owners is ‘we are surrounded by water but we have nowhere to take our dogs’,” said the chairman of the Dog Friendly Parks and Zones committee. leash from Sarnia, who has been lobbying for more municipal dog-friendly spaces for years.

“Ideally, we would like to see it in place so that we can use the beach by spring and summer.

Sarnia had planned to launch a one-year pilot project for a designated dog beach space last year, but the public consultation process was disrupted by COVID-19.

Council will revisit the matter on December 13, when staff are expected to provide plans to re-engage the community both at the proposed dog beach and at additional dog parks.

“An off-leash dog space requires quite a bit of community consultation to make sure we don’t affect any of the various neighborhoods,” said Sarnia Recreation Coordinator Krissy Glavin.

“We will come back to the board with some details on the site selection criteria… as well as come back with a little timeline for public consultation. “

Feedback gathering would most likely begin in mid-January, she said.

Glavin said staff will consult with the group of off-leash volunteers, who pushed to open the city’s first dog park at Germain Park in 2017. If all goes well, the beach could be in place for spring or summer 2022, she said. .

A 2020 online survey drew around 100 responses, with 81% supporting a dog-friendly beach and 58% supporting a beach allowing dogs off-leash in an unfenced area.

Regarding location, 29% supported the western end of Canatara Beach; 22% liked Mike Weir Park Beach, 21% liked Baxter Beach and 19% liked The Cove on Lake Huron.

“It needs to be responsive to neighbors, have plenty of parking and be big enough for people to spread out,” Davis said.

She recommends the western option of Canatara Beach, although staff noted that the beach could lose its coveted “Blue Flag” status, which requires high-quality water and prohibits pets on the sand.

“If the section of beach we’re looking at can be separated… we can still maintain that blue flag status,” Davis argued.

Ontario’s popular Wasaga Beach – the first provincial park in Canada to receive the Blue Flag designation – has a designated area for dogs, enclosed between two wooden fences.

Davis doesn’t expect a lot of complaints from beach goers.

“People are going to clean up because they want to keep it – they all have a vested interest – and we know it’s going to be a pilot project,” Davis said. “No one wants to go to a beach that has not been maintained.

“This is not a beach for dogs,” she said. “This is a beach for families and individuals who want to bring their dogs with them to enjoy their day at the beach.”


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