Methuen area going to the dogs

Ladysmith approves fenced dog park for the centre of town

Dusty inspects a photographer while Rascal trots off to explore other areas of the Transfer Beach off-leash dog area. Owners Stirling and Audrey Beeston have been taking their dogs to the park for 40 years.

Dusty inspects a photographer while Rascal trots off to explore other areas of the Transfer Beach off-leash dog area. Owners Stirling and Audrey Beeston have been taking their dogs to the park for 40 years.

A new fenced dog park is coming to Ladysmith in a central location.

A late recommendation from staff to build the park on undeveloped town land west of the turf field failed to trump similar existing proposals at Brown Drive Park, Davis Road School and the corner of Sixth Avenue and Methuen.

Instead, council has decide to move forward with the Methuen site, near one of the entrances to the Holland Creek Trail. The proximity to that popular dog walk and the fact that it is in the middle of town overcome any concerns about site size.

“It’s a central location and there is enough space,” Mayor Aaron Stone said. “I think council thought it was a better location.”

Stirling and Audrey Beeston are the owners of a pair of the town’s 1,000 licensed dogs. They are OK with the idea of a fenced off-leash dog park being added in town. Shrinking and fencing in the current off-leash area at Transfer Beach Park? Not so much.

The couple has been taking their pets to Transfer Beach Park for 40 years on an almost daily basis. They see lots of space, pets and people interacting in an healthy way and no threat to public safety or people’s enjoyment of the park.

They don’t see anything broken, and they wonder why council feels the need to start fixing.

“Why are they wasting our tax dollars?” Audrey asked.

The answer, according to the town, is part safety and part being neighbourly. Stone said there have been incidents of dogs running out on to the road. And there have been complaints from other users of the beach area who don’t want to have to interact with canines.

“There’s been feedback from the other side of the equation,” he said. “There are people that don’t want a dog park there at all. We don’t want that.”

Instead, the goal is to continue providing opportunities for dog owners while minimizing impact on other park uses.

Council has already approved reducing the Transfer Beach off-leash zone to the area below the horseshoe pitch. In the other half of the current area, they will be permitted on-leash only.

Stone said some people are misunderstanding what the beach area will look like. It’s less a fence and more of a way of marking out the new territory.

“The intent is not to enclose it. It’s providing a soft barrier,” he said. “It’s still a very large area. It’s all about finding a common good.”

Split-wood fencing, landscaping and new signage has been approved to mark the new off-leash area in this year’s budget. Work is expected to get underway at a cost of about $14,000, once council has approved the final design.

It’s less clear when work on the Methuen site is expected to get started. Estimated cost of developing the park is $27,000 — $3,000 less than the Forrest Field option, and $14,000 more than Brown Drive.

Plans still need to drawn up and a lease agreement negotiated with BC Hydro.

The Brown Drive Park location was deemed by staff to lack parking and be too close to the playground. Council also felt both it and Forrest Field could be better utilized for other purposes. The school was rejected as an option partly due to uncertainty about school district plans for the property.