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Town of Banff investigating separate off-leash area for small dogs

“The current dog park we have in Banff is great, but given the size of my dog, I don’t feel safe taking him there."
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Banff's off leash dog park by the industrial compound. The Town is looking at creating a separate area for small and older dogs within the park after a request from a resident. RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF – A local resident wasn’t barking up the wrong tree with her plan for a separated off-leash dog area for small and medium sized dogs.

Banff town council has asked administration to investigate options following a pitch from resident Mariana Barron, who said she did not feel it was safe for her small Morkie dog at the existing off-leash park in the industrial compound.

“The current dog park we have in Banff is great, but given the size of my dog, I don’t feel safe taking him there,” said Barron during a council meeting on Monday (July 27).

“There have been some alarming encounters on our daily walks with big dogs, that have caused me to become very protective.”

Barron said she suggests building a fence in the existing off-leash park to separate smaller and larger dogs, as has been done in some other communities.

“I am not an expert on dog behaviour, but I have been doing some research and I believe it is vital to provide separate areas for small and large dogs and avoid any potential tragedy,” she said.

“As much as dog owners like to say their dogs are fine with small breeds, incidents can’t always be predicted and accidents can happen anywhere.”

Council unanimously directed administration to explore the option of creating a dedicated space for small – and older – dogs in either the existing off-leash park, or the new one planned for the Banff recreation grounds.

Council asked administration to come back with a report by the fourth quarter of this year.

Councillor Grant Canning, who owns a small 15-year-old dog, voiced strong support.

He said senior dogs have some of the same challenges as smaller dogs when mixing with larger breeds.

“In situations like this, they just don’t have the size, or quite frankly, the energy to run around with large, energetic puppies,” he said.

“In my case, I’ve noticed my little girl gets bowled over from these rather large, energetic puppies.”

Coun. Canning said he didn’t want to pre-determine where the separated dog park would go – at the existing one or the new one.

“I’d be more than happy to get some information back,” he said.

“This is definitely a good direction to go in … having a separated space would certainly makes some sense.”

A letter to council from resident Elise Findlay backed up Barron’s request. 

Findlay said she has tried many times to take her Westie Kuma to the dog park in Banff, but has given up because she does not feel her dog is safe there.

“She has been run over regularly by the larger dogs and snapped at on a few occasions, thankfully without serious injury,” she wrote in a letter.

“I know dogs play and it can get rough, but there is a big difference between a little dog like mine being bit or run over by a small dog and one that is easily four times her size.”

Findlay said she would love to be able to use the dog park so her pet can socialize with other dogs in a safe manner.

“I think public spaces should be open to all users and a small dog section, or even a time that was reserved for small dogs, would mean that I would feel safe using the dog park,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Town of Canmore’s work to formalize two official off-leash zones at the Quarry Lake dog park is almost finished.

Officials say the meadow and pond areas will be the two official off-leash zones, with all other areas, including the one-kilometre loop trail, requiring all dogs to be on leash.

“You will be required to have your dog on leash outside of the meadow and pond areas once the new signage is in place,” according to the Town of Canmore.

The change still allows for continued use of the pond, giving dogs a place to swim.

The one-km loop trail and pond also lies within what is known as the Quarry Lake habitat patch.

According to the municipality’s website, reducing the off-leash zone within the habitat patch acknowledges the importance of use of the area by wildlife.

“This is a compromise solution – allowing for some continued use, while recognizing the area is important for wildlife,” it states.


Cathy Ellis

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