By ANSON WONG
A petition to convert part of Blantyre Park in southwest Scarborough into an off-leash dog area has garnered more than 330 signatures.
Located at 180 Fallingbrook Rd. the park is home to many structures including a baseball diamond, outdoor pool, gazebo, and horseshoe pit.
“We are not looking to overtake the whole park,” said Anne Macdonald, a member of the Blantyre Park Dog Owners group calling for the off-leash area.
“We just need a safe and secure area that will keep all safe and comfortable.”
For many years, the horseshoe pit has served as an unofficial dog park.
A primary concern, however, is the unsafe traffic conditions for dogs according to the petition page. Fencing in the horseshoe pit keeps the dogs from running out toward oncoming traffic.
The dog owners’ group has been advocating for an off-leash area since May 2019. In the same month, a gathering meeting found that four people liked the horseshoe pits while seven wanted it removed.
Renovations would be minimal with fencing and open space already available. Installing a gate and removing the posts for horseshoes would be all that is required to turn the area into an off-leash dog site.
Alternative dog parks are kilometres away from Blantyre Park.
Having a common area for dogs to interact with each other is necessary from a physical and psychological standpoint according to Diana Gakov, a member of the group.
“When they are afforded the space to play and run, just like when humans exercise/go to the gym it enables them to have a more full, healthy and happy life,” said Gakov.
Other areas within Blantyre Park have also been proposed for fencing for the off-leash area. These locations will not impact the baseball diamond already in the park.
The City of Toronto has been reluctant to move forward with the off-leash area proposals for Blantyre Park for a number of reasons including the proposed area is too small, too close to other amenities, is surrounded by steep slopes, and protected trees exist in the area.
“Our association has noted that the city has made exceptions with other OLAs (off-leash areas) with these same issues,” Macdonald said. “Greenwood, Fishleigh, Norwood, Wildwood and Cassels are prime examples of OLA that are not consistent with these reasons from the city.”
For more information on the Blantyre Park off-leash area petition, please go to https://www.change.org/o/blantyre_park_dog_association