CANMORE – The Quarry Lake off-leash dog park area will soon see significant changes that municipal officials say are a compromised solution that aims to protect wildlife habitat, as well as ensure dog owners can still enjoy off-leash spaces.
The current one-kilometer loop trail will soon be turned back into an on-leash route this spring, while the meadow and the dog pond will remain off-leash areas, said Lori Rissling-Wynn, the Town’s sustainability coordinator and development planner.
“It’s a modification of the existing use and so that if you’re in the meadow area, your dog can still be off leash, if you’re in the area around the dog pond, you’re dog can be off-leash.
"But coming and going between those two areas and anywhere else along the forebay, or power line, unless you are in an off-leash area, your dog needs to be on-leash,” said Rissling-Wynn.
The one-kilometre loop trail was changed to off-leash as part of a pilot project initiated in 2017. Rissling-Wynn said people were already using the area as such, so administration within the Town decided to formalize the use and see how people responded. However, she said it seemed to create a lot of confusion for users and for bylaw peace officers.
“We recognize that the community still wants access to the dog pond, so that was something that was in the back of our mind and a use that we wanted to see if we could facilitate, but with the ... one-km loop trail, it was problematic for our bylaw enforcement staff to try and do enforcement,” said Rissling-Wynn.
“The feedback we got from users was that it was confusing, and they weren’t clear what was on-leash or off-leash because we were trying to do it with minimal infrastructure changes.
"There were blade signs along the trail, but even with that people still expressed confusion with where the on- or off-leash areas were.”
The changes, set to launch officially in the spring, would see the dog pond and meadow still as off-leash areas. Added signage and fencing is included in the project to help clearly delineate the areas and ensure users were aware of the rules. However, the use of the one-kilometre loop as an off-leash walk will eventually no longer be an option with the change expected this spring after the infrastructure is installed.
“The other piece was to recognize that the entire area, including the loop trail and the off-leash dog pond, are in the Quarry Lake habitat patch and so there is a recognition that that area is really important for wildlife,” she said.
“We decided to come up with a compromised solution so people still have access to the meadow, people still have access to the pond, but the actual in and out one-kilometre loop trail would go back to being on-leash and so that would clarify for bylaw and clarify for users, we’ll do a good job of signage and delineating it.”
Post and cable fencing is expected at major trail intersections entering and leaving the meadow, and at the dog pond to border the off-leash area.
Rissling-Wynn said once the changes take effect, bylaw officers would focus on education over ticketing with a grace period for users to acclimatize to the changes. However, once that grace period is over, full fines will be in effect.
In accordance with the animal control bylaw, the initial fine for an off-leash dog is $100 for the first offence, with the second increasing to $200, and the third increasing to $300 accompanied by a mandatory court appearance.
Visit canmore.ca/projects/quarry-lake-dog-park-expansion for more information on the Quarry Lake off-leash dog park changes.