Town continues effort to sniff out off-leash dog park site

December 21, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Orangeville is in the market for a parcel of land it can turn into an off-leash dog park.

The former train station at 49 Town Line is currently occupied by the Orangeville Public Library. While the library has successfully served the residents from this location, it has now transitioned out of the station and returned to the Mill Street location.

The current dog park is located on the north side of Hansen Road on lands owned by Orangeville Highlands who are developing the area into residential dwellings.

Council approved a temporary dog park in June to be constructed at the train station. 

But Heather Savage, the town’s manager of community services, said in a report to council at its Dec. 11 meeting, that a recently completed environmental site assessment indicated the lands abutting the rail station are unsuitable for such a park.

The area would require a great deal of resources and funding to properly remediate the land to satisfy the requirements of the Ministry of the Environment, she said in her report.

Staff have since researched other locations for a temporary off-leash park.

Staff looked to the Humber Lands, Fendley Park, and Harvey Currie Park. Due to lack of parking, shared driveways, and to avoid any wet land areas, these locations were not considered appropriate.

The July 2020 Recreation and Parks Master Plan recommended that an off-leash dog park be constructed in Princess of Wales Park or the open field next to Orangeville Hydro at Richardson Road and C Line.

Staff connected with the property owner of 450 C Line to gauge their interest in leasing a portion of the land to the Town on a short-term basis.

Savage said in her report to council that the owner is keen to repurpose the land for community use and future development but is not interested in converting the lands to an off-leash park.

The former train station has drawn much interest over the past year.

Both informal and formal requests to use the space have been put forward to council and staff since the sale of the Orangeville-Brampton railway in July 2022.

Municipal staff propose to issue an Expression of Interest (EOI) early next year to formally receive proposals to use the space.

An EOI is a formal and fair way to assess how the space should be allocated due to the high demand for this facility. Non-profit and private user groups will be encouraged to apply based on sound business cases.

All users of the space will be subjected to lease rates, rental rates or a partnership agreement. In the interim, the train station will be made available for rent through the Recreation Division’s room rental program.

Councillor Joe Andrews said a number of residents have told him they like where the dog park is currently. The difficulty is in finding the right location, even for a short term.

He said Savage referenced using privately owned properties. But her report didn’t include costs for that option.

“The pickings are slim, as you know, in our community unless we look at an existing park,” he said.

Andrews said it’s been suggested to him that the town could avail of a Lions Club property on Diane Drive.

“The reason the residents highlighted their like for the current location is because of the parking that’s there, too,” Andrews said.

Savage said she’s hoping there’s a community-minded landowner out there willing to make some space for a short-term dog park available.

Staff will continue to explore options both on public and privately owned properties. Once a location is secured, fencing will be installed, parking will be made available, and the park will be opened to the public.

“On that point about the short-term solution, if we find ourselves at a crossroads where we don’t have it, then what option to they (dog owners) have?” Andrews said. “They don’t have an option.”

“I don’t think there isn’t an option,” Savage said, and added that staff have suggested two other locations that are owned by the town.

“Once we have a better picture of what’s out there, then I think we can identify suitable locations that have access to parking, that have a large enough area for dogs temporarily,” she said.

The Orangeville Highlands Phase 2 subdivision’ proposes a 0.4 hectare/ 1.03 acre off-leash park as part of its draft-approved plan. This proposed park will be located on the same parcel of land as the existing dog park, but in a different location as is presently situated.

While the engineering design is being finalized for this subdivision, construction is anticipated to begin early next year. This means that the current dog park will be offline while construction is underway.

It will be reopened in its permanent location once the subdivision work is complete.

“We also are working closely with the developer,” Savage said.

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