Author: Nova Prince, Citizen Journalist
One hot day in August teen Kai Barlow took to the streets of Sidney, passing water bowls a-plenty, to chat with pooch pedestrians and the person-pets (aka owners) clinging to their leashes.
The issue on her mind?
A dog park – in Sidney.
The first to weigh in on the subject was dog owner Jeff Kinney, out for a stroll with canine companion, Tony. While Tony was noticeably reticent on the subject, Jeff was happy to offer an opinion. “A dog park in Sidney? Yeah, it’s a great idea. Every time I’m out walking there’s tons of people out walking their dogs. There’s a lot of dogs in Sidney. I’d use it. Tony would love it. I haven’t seen any off-leash places in Sidney.”
That’s 1 – 0 in favour of a dog park. Would that persuade the Sidney powers-that-be to designate a dog park? Probably not.
So, on she went, stopping for a chat with Annie and her owner Bill Newman, who had quite a story to tell about Annie.
“[Annie’s] a rescue dog. She’d been wandering the streets of Parksville and nobody claimed her. She’d been hit by a car… and was cowering on somebody’s front porch. The only reason they could get close to her is because she was hungry and in bad shape. The organization called Second Chance got hold of her; we were interviewed as possible owners and we were approved. We’ve had her for five years … We’re lucky to have her.”
Bill identified Cy Hampson Park on Lochside Drive (not too far from Sidney) as a great place for dogs to run around, and added , “It wouldn’t hurt to have another park; there are so many dogs. “
Not the most enthusiastic endorsement, but still batting a thousand.
Marie Rosko and her precious Precious also offered their two cents’ worth. “Another dog park would be nice if they had it sort of fenced off just for people who have dogs … They have one in Duncan and it works out very well. They have benches and the owners can sit down and the dogs play with each other. Personally I’m always concerned when dogs are off-leash, because they might be alright at home but they might not be okay around other dogs or small children.”
Jeanne Guy and her dogs, Teddy and Coco, are a familiar sight on Sidney streets. “We walk up to the ocean at the end of Beacon and I go for coffee at the pier because you’re allowed to take your dog in … It’s my favourite place,” says Jeanne, agreeing that a nice park is a good idea.
Four in favour – zero against. Is there anyone who thinks a dog park in Sidney is a bad idea?
Well … up to now, only dogs and their owners have been asked about a park. Is it possible they’re biased? How about asking a non-dog-owner?
Enter Jane, who manages the Beacon Community Services Thrift Store, The Annex; perhaps the premiere doggie destination in Sidney. “I do love dogs,” says Jane. “I never thought of myself as a dog person, but it appears that I am. I don’t have a dog any more. We lost ours about 3 years ago; she died of old age … but I get to be an auntie to all the other dogs and there’s a lot of dogs here.”
How does Jane feel about a dog park in Sidney? “It would be lovely to have one in the Sidney area. There’s a lot of retirees who live in Sidney. They don’t drive and their dogs need a place to run. It’s such an important thing; there’s a lot of ladies here and they’re widowed and lonely and the dogs give them wonderful company and keep people moving. We get them in here all the time, and some of them would just stay at home all the time and curl up in front of the TV and not get fresh air and exercise which keeps them alive. Having a pet will keep a lot of people alive. It’s a very important part of our life here, so a local dog-walking park makes sense.”
Score: 5 – 0.
While dozens identified a dog park as a good, even great idea, no one denounced the idea.
Now where to put it? That’s the next question.
Contact Saanich Voice Online and voice your opinion.