Due in part to the recent rash of threats to unleashed dogs in Comox parks, the Town has designated the Northeast Woods as a leash-free area.
“It’s a temporary measure, until we get a report back from staff, about options and costs for a permanent off-leash dog park,” said Mayor Russ Arnott. “So, for now, we are making the Northeast Woods area leash-optional.”
The choice of the Northeast Woods as a temporary site is practical, as it has been used as a leash-optional area by local residents for many years, despite its official designation of “leash mandatory.”
“It’s been working quite well in that area for a long time, even though officially it is a ‘leashed’ area,” said Arnott. “I think it’s fair to say we are [appeasing the masses]. But we are also being mindful of those who are in the area who maybe have an expectation that it is leashed only. With the recent events, we want people to know that they may encounter off-leash dogs.”
In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of an elderly couple armed with bear spray, approaching dogs and dog-owners in an aggressive manner, threatening to spray the off-leash dogs.
Arnott reiterated that the Northeast Woods off-leash designation is only temporary, but it may lead to a permanent designation.
“Who knows? One of our staff reports may very well come out and indicate that is an area where we just keep it as [leash] optional.”
The Northeast Woods is the only area within the town where the leash designation has been changed. Arnott is hopeful people make use of the off-leash designation at Northeast Woods, but he is realistic about the entire situation.
“Let’s face it, people are going to walk their dogs, and they are going to let little Rover run around for a bit, and for the most part it doesn’t do a lot of harm,” he said. “These things are complaint-driven. It’s not like we are going to have the bylaw officer sitting in a car outside the park waiting for people to take the dog off the leash. But really, it comes down to the dog owners being responsible. If they are taking their dog for a walk and they are going to Port Augusta Park, or Aspen Park, and they let the dog run loose, and it’s an aggressive dog, or it’s defecating and they are not picking it up, we will have to take a more serious approach in those parks. But for now, I have to say I think people are pretty good with their pets.”