FORT NELSON, B.C. – Regional Council recently discussed whether or not there was interest in revisiting the idea of a potential dog park.

This April 25th discussion came after community members’ inquiries, and the council asked staff to bring back a report summarizing previous talks.

In June of 2013, a councillor raised the idea of a dog park and provided numerous signatures in support.

Staff then conducted a feasibility study of the off-leash dog park in Fort Nelson, and in August of 2013, council received the report.

It included background information on off-leash dog parks, benefits, drawbacks, regulatory recommendations and five potential locations.

Possible locations included Lagoon Road and next to the previous Aquatic Centre.

One of the issues raised by one councillor was based on the need to address the Animal Control Bylaw and contract before the park.

Administration was then directed to provide a detailed report on costs and design.

At a November 25th, 2013 meeting, the costs of developing a dog park at the two most feasible locations were presented to council.

During this meeting, it was decided that the Aquatic Centre site was too far, but they resolved to have two options for consideration available at the 2014 budget meeting.

At the meeting, they approved a budget of $25,000 for developing an off-leash dog park along Lagoon Road but deferred a final decision until a later date.

In the Capital Budget Proposal, there was a suggestion to consider the Demonstration Forest (or Community Forest) as a possible location for the park, as it already has established basic etiquette regarding care for the park and pets.

In August of 2014, a report was presented to Regional Council with a proposal to formalize and enhance the Demonstration Forest as an unfenced off-leash dog park.

Several benefits were mentioned, and only minor enhancements to the Community Forest would be needed, as well as less development and upkeep.

However, this location was considered unsuitable as there were concerns about dog feces throughout the park. The ideas origin was also put into question.

It was also brought up that this concept could be brought into talks related to the Community Parks and Trails Master Plan project that was already in progress.

Phase I of the Parks and Trails Master Planning was completed in late 2015.

Phase I of the master plan is a document summarizing park and trail assets with guiding principles and recommendations to advance to the subsequent phases.

This process included a public survey to find out the community priorities.

The survey identified a need for an off-leash dog park and the need for stricter penalties for those who walk their dogs without a leash.

Phase II is in progress, Asset Condition Assessment, and Phase III, Initial Public Engagement, is planned to continue in 2023 and includes the refinement of public priorities through stakeholder engagement.

Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.