Efforts to reduce humans and their off-leash furry friends from using a habitat patch near Quarry Lake have resulted in the approval of a significant pilot project.
The Rocky Mountain Heritage Foundation has approved a proposal from the municipality of Canmore to expand the off-leash dog park at Quarry Lake as part of a pilot project for one year.
Michael Fark, general manager of municipal infrastructure, said the pilot is intended to better protect sensitive wildlife and wetland habitat that currently sees considerable unauthorized use and provide the public with enhanced access to off-leash facilities.
“We recognized there is considerable current unauthorized use by residents of that habitat path and what we currently call the dog pond, even though it is not a dog pond,” Fark said. “The intent of the pilot is to better protect the habitat patch and the pond. So we are better protecting the environment and still providing people with an enhanced facility to take dogs on walks.”
A public consultation process last year regarding potential enhancements to Quarry Lake showed a strong desire by off-leash dog park users to address the issue. With the area under management by the Rocky Mountain Heritage Foundation, input and approval was needed from them to move forward with the pilot.
The project is proposed to provide a one-kilometre long trail where owners can walk their dogs off-leash between the current park and the pond area. Part of the pond area will also provide an opportunity for dogs to swim off-leash. The trail will provide a loop from the current dog park area to the pond and back.
Fark said the remaining riparian habitat at the pond would be protected with a buoy line installed across the pond to divide areas where dogs can go and where they cannot.
The project, he added, is hoped to start this spring and over the year that it is in place officials will look for a reduction in the use of the nearby habitat patch by dog owners and their unleashed four-legged friends. Fark said the pond will also be assessed to determine if further erosion or incursion by dogs off-leash occurs.
“This is a pilot to establish whether or not with increased (off-leash area) and signage it will result in putting an end or significantly reducing the unauthorized incursions into the habitat patch and better protect the pond,” Fark said.
The other option available to municipal officials to curb the use of the habitat patch area was enforcement, as it is clearly signed where dogs can and cannot be off-leash.