Dogs will have to remain on leash in Harmston Park.
The majority of the neighbourhood surrounding Harmston Park — which is located on Harmston Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets — said it does not want an off-leash dog park at Harmston Park, and Courtenay council voted against moving forward with the idea.
Council directed Courtenay staff to look into the feasibility of an off-leash dog park at Harmston Park back in September.
A neighbourhood meeting was held at the park in mid-October, which about 20 of the surrounding community members attended. Survey sheets were also handed out to nearby residents and businesses, according to a staff report from Courtenay director of community services Randy Wiwchar.
“The results of the meeting was an overwhelming ‘no’ to the idea of having an off-leash dog park at Harmston Park,” Wiwchar wrote in the report. “The survey sheets received also represented a strong ‘no’ to the project.”
Some of the reasons listed were: dog noise, owners not picking up after dogs, extra vehicle traffic and parking issues, and spending tax dollars on the park should not be a priority.
Coun. Doug Hillian had brought forward the motion to look into the idea and he attended the meeting.
“Even though this was my suggestion that we look into this park as a possibility, I don’t have a problem with what’s being recommended here,” said Hillian of Wiwchar’s report recommending a halt on the idea of an off-leash dog park at Harmston Park.
He added there are “significant issues” with the Harmston Park location that came to light during the process.
But he didn’t think the whole idea should die.
“I don’t think we should let go of the overall objective of finding more areas people can take their pets off-leash, but the direction that’s being proposed right now, I’m comfortable with,” added Hillian.
Although council voted to stop pursuing an off-leash park at Harmston Park, the motion also directed Courtenay staff to contact the Comox Valley Regional District to discuss options for a Comox Valley off-leash park.
Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard pointed out there are off-leash parks in the Comox Valley.
“I know that there are opportunities in this Valley already for off-leash dog walking. I suspect that the issue is more about people who maybe can’t access those more rural countryside opportunities,” said Leonard.
“It’s obvious that this is a very big challenge to set up and I appreciate the time that’s gone into testing the waters on this.”