Our furry friends have been a constant source of emotional, physical and mental support throughout this isolating pandemic, so I was startled to learn that the City of North Vancouver is considering reducing the City’s best (and only waterfront) off-leash dog park, Kings Mill Walk, to the size of a volleyball court and blocking its access to the water.
Current users of the Kings Mill Walk dog park rave about the remarkable space: a long, rectangular stretch of park by the water, which features a variety of large, open areas (both dirt and grass-covered), trees, shrubs, park benches, rocky beaches and stunning views of the waterfront. The Kings Mill Walk dog park is unique in the City. Although the City currently contains six off-leash dog parks, four of them are the size of postage stamps and one is a forested trail.
The City of North Vancouver wants to use the existing dog park for habitat enhancement. However, we are blessed with an abundance of natural habitat on the North shore. We are NOT blessed with an abundance of off-leash spaces to take our dogs. Dogs are (understandably) forbidden from schoolyards, playing fields and most park areas. In fact, it’s difficult to find an off-leash space to play a simple game of fetch or Frisbee with your dog.
The City also doesn’t seem to have considered the negative environmental impacts of forcing scores of dog owners to drive out of the City to find healthy play spaces for their dogs. Increased car driving leads to increased carbon emissions, which leads to worsening levels of climate change.
The B.C. SPCA’s vision statement recognizes five essential freedoms for animals, including the freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being. The massive reduction in the Kings Mill Walk dog park would cause a massive reduction in the quality of life for many of the City’s dogs. After all they’ve done for us throughout this pandemic, don’t they deserve better?