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Castlegar to debate beefing up dog park enforcement

Castlegar city council will look at adding extra patrols of the dog park in Millennium Park and funding an education campaign during upcoming budget talks.

Council approved councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff’s motion that the starting point for discussion be $10,000 for another eight hours per week of patrols plus $5,000 for education and signage.

It follows the first of two staff reports on the dog park received this week by council after a debate on whether the park should continue to exist at all. Council voted to keep it open but wanted to address complaints from neighbours.

The report noted the city’s contract with the BC SPCA for animal control and sheltering services costs $4,300 per month, including four hours of patrols per day, five days per week and kennelling services. In response to complaints, the hours have been adjusted to cover peak times.

However, no tickets have been issued and since Oct. 10, the SPCA said it has not received any noise or off-lease complaints about Millennium Park.

The report noted adding another eight hours of patrols would cost $10,000 but anything more than that would come at a “substantial increase” as the SPCA would have to hire extra staff and implement safety procedures if that person worked outside office hours.

“It is debatable that increased enforcement would address concerns raised by the neighbourhood regarding noise,” the report says.

The report also said education could take the form of increased signage focused on responsible dog ownership. A suggested sign might read: “Bark-free zone. Please be considerate. Noise from the park is a nuisance to our neighbours. Dogs that bark persistently must be removed from the premises.”

It was estimated the education component would cost $2,500 to $5,000.

Council decided both approaches were worth further discussion.

Heaton-Sherstobitoff called the report “a great start” and said she would also like an information kiosk at the park.

Councillor Cherryl MacLeod said she would like a set closing time for the dog park, noting that sometimes people shine vehicle lights into the park so they and their dogs can use it late into the evening.

City manager Chris Barlow said technically all parks are supposed to close at 10 p.m.

A second staff report on municipal best practices for dog parks and suggestions to address resident concerns is expected to be brought forth to council sometime after next March.

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