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Summerland off-leash dog park becomes permanent

The facility has been a divisive issue in the community since May 2023
Dogs enjoying the large space offered at the off-leash dog park in Peach Orchard Park in Summerland. On June 11, Summerland council voted to make the park a permanent facility. (Black Press file photo)

A temporary dog park at Peach Orchard Beach in Summerland has now become permanent.

Municipal council made the decision at the June 11 meeting.

The park had been set up as a temporary facility in May 2023 and since that time, has been a divisive issue within the community, with strongly held opinions both for and against the facility in the location.

Speaking to council, Robert Hacking of the Summerland Dog Owners’ Association said the fenced dog park has been a benefit to the community.

He said there are now fewer geese at Peach Orchard Beach than before the dog park was set up, and that the noise from dogs in the fenced area is less loud than the other sounds from the street and from other parts of the waterfront park.

A petition organized by the Summerland Dog Owners Association now has 1,146 signatures in support of this location, he said.

“The park brings our community together, and that is a very good thing,” Hacking said.

Peter Waterman said the present location is the best option for an off-leash dog park in Summerland. He explained that because of drainage issues on that portion of Peach Orchard Beach, the land is unlikely to be selected for other uses.

However, some who live near the dog park believe the location is not appropriate.

“The noise from the park should not be tolerated any longer,” said Lisa Slizek. “There are other areas where dog owners can go.” Mike Kosmack also said there are better locations for a dog park in the community. 

Mayor Doug Holmes presented a motion to have municipal staff explore alternative locations for a temporary pop-up fenced dog park.

He said council had searched for a suitable dog park location for at least five years before the Peach Orchard Beach location was selected.

However, since that time, the dog park area has been the source of considerable controversy within the community.

“Public feedback on the Peach Orchard Beach Park location was mixed – both strongly in favour and strongly opposed,” Holmes said.

In September 2023, Summerland council voted against installing permanent fencing at that location and instead considered a different location in the community.

The proposed location, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, was declined by the congregation.

“In the meantime, temporary fencing has remained in place at Peach Orchard Beach and council continues to receive correspondence both in favour and against,” Holmes said.

He said other locations have been brought forward. These include a piece of municipal land at the corner of Canyon View Road and Paradise Road. Council is also interested in examining unused land within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Other members of council disagreed with searching for a different location.

“It would be a flagrant waste of our citizens’ tax dollars,” said Coun. Doug Patan. He added that the municipality has already spent $60,000 on consultants for the dog park. 

If a different location is later proposed for a dog park, it would be easy to relocate the facility, he said. 

“We’re not talking structures; we’re talking posts,” he said.

Coun. Richard Barkwill said the waterfront area is getting more use now than in the past as a result of the dog park. 

“I’m convinced there is no better place for a dog park,” he said.

Coun. Marty Van Alphen said the present location is good for a dog park.

“I think it is workable and I think we need to put this one to rest,” he said.

Coun. Adrienne Betts said she was disappointed with what she described as an issue that has become unnecessarily divisive. She said the park, in its present location, is safe and well-lit.

The temporary facility will become a permanent off-leash dog park, while the area of Peach Orchard Beach Park outside the fenced area will be an on-leash park year-round.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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