District of Sechelt Council banned off-leash dogs from Kinnikinnick Park at the May 18 council meeting, effective immediately.
Parks manager Jayme Anderson told council that a soft opening of an option for dog owners, the Ebbtide off-leash park should be able to happen shortly. He said the fencing and gates are in place to provide a secure area and that the space could be made available for use without the Rotary Club gazebo in place. Supply chain problems have delayed the completion of that park element. Once the club is ready to erect the structure, the park would need to be closed while construction is under way.
The decision to close Kinnickinnick to off-leash dogs was recommended by staff so as to protect the already weather-stressed playing fields – the park houses the District’s only two full-sized soccer fields.
When the potential closure of Kinnickinnick Park to off-leash dogs was announced earlier this year, the Coast Reporter received several letters to the editor protesting the move, citing the need for space for larger dogs as well as accessibility concerns for owners. However, there were no public comments included at the head of the council meeting in opposition.
Delays in the completion of Trail Avenue upgrading – related to archaeological investigations and mitigation as well as COVID and supply – meant Sechelt’s first dedicated off-leash dog park (Ebbtide) did not open in 2020 as originally planned.
At the May 18 meeting, to explore opportunities to create a space for exercising larger dogs, council requested staff look into applying to obtain an area of Crown Land near Kinnikinnick Park for recreation purposes. If successful, the land could provide an extension to the park and an additional off-leash area could be constructed.