Residents oppose fenced dog park

Fernie Pets Society proposal for temporary fencing at Annex met with opposition.

Temporary fencing proposed at Annex Park for an off-leash dog park is receiving opposition from residents.

The Fernie Pets Society (FPS) approached council with the project last month, intending to put Annex’ green space to use while awaiting environmental assessment and surveying funds for a permanent off-leash dog park in the Ridgemont area.

FPS President Pierre Dupont explained of the project, “We wanted to move forward with fencing one of the existing parks while waiting for the Ridgemont site to progress as we’re looking at a few years wait for the environmental assessment and clean up at the Ridgemont site to happen, so we decided to get things moving with a dog park somewhere that people could use.”

But many inhabitants in the Annex and beyond are against the project.

“We’ve all tried to share that green space. Adults, children and animals,” said 12th Avenue resident Rose Stratton. “Now they are going to fence it off just for the animals – where is everyone else supposed to go?”

Fellow 12th Avenue resident Alice Booth concurred.

“It isn’t that we oppose dogs in the area or sharing that space with dog owners, it’s the fencing that many of us are opposed to,” explained Booth. “The minute that they fence it, our families cannot use it. It’s gone and it’s no longer available for us to use and it’s a beautiful area.”

The proposed Annex fencing would cover a 2.2-acre area between 12th Avenue and the river.

Booth maintained that the dedication of 2.2-acres for off-leash use wouldn’t leave much space for residents to access the park for recreational use.

The provisional aspect of the project still worries residents.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s temporary because once it goes up, it’s going to stay up,” said Booth.

Dupont said talks are expected to move forward between FPS and Fernie council in regards to the society’s main project for a permanent off-leash site at Ridgemont.