Pilot Leash-Optional Areas Open in Port Coquitlam Apr. 1

Starting on Apr. 1, Port Coquitlam dog owners will have two more places to play with their pets off-leash.

Skyline and Chelsea Parks are the selected locations for the city’s one-year pilot of leash-optional areas – unfenced park spaces shared by the general public and residents with off-leash dogs. A year-long online survey at www.portcoquitlam.ca/dogs will collect feedback about the pilot project, which was based on public demand and extensive community consultation.

“We have thousands of dog owners in our community, and there is a clear need for more places where they can interact with their dogs’ off-leash,” Mayor Brad West said. “Leash-optional spaces are a cost-efficient way to provide this service, and over the next year we’re going to see if they work in Port Coquitlam as well as they do in other communities.” 

As of Apr. 1, the entirety of Skyline Park between Eastern and Western Drives on the south side will be designated leash-optional for the pilot project, along with the north section of Chelsea Park on the north side.

Given that the leash-optional areas are unfenced shared spaces, owners must remain on-site, keep their dogs under control at all times, clean up after them, and ensure they are not violent or aggressive.

Signs with the rules for use will be posted along the boundaries, and bylaw enforcement is being ramped up to educate users and enforce the rules. Dog waste bags and bins will be provided at both locations.

The city began investigating additional off-leash areas last year to address growing demand. Port Coquitlam has about 8,000 registered dogs and two fenced dog parks: the larger Shaughnessy Park Dog Off-leash Area on the north side, and the smaller Downtown Dog Off-leash Area on the south side.

However, the dog parks can be busy during peak times and many dog owners are not within walking distance to them. Off-leash dogs are regularly seen in city parks and trails, raising concerns about safety, dog waste, and damage to sports fields and ecological areas.

“By giving our local dog owners more places to take their dogs off-leash, it makes it easier for the city to enforce our leash bylaws in other areas,” said Cllr. Glenn Pollock, a dog owner and the Council designate for housing, sports and recreation issues. “Depending on how the pilot goes, we may consider more leash-optional spaces in the future. We encourage the public to go online and give us your feedback over the next year.”

The leash-optional concept – already implemented successfully in communities such as Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam and Abbotsford – received support when the city sought public feedback in late summer 2018 through an online survey, social media polls, and staff attendance at community events and dog parks.

More than 1,600 responses were received over a four-week period, with 77 per cent of survey respondents and about 64 per cent of social media respondents supporting shared, unfenced off-leash areas. Skyline and Chelsea Park had the highest level of support among the suggested locations. About 77 per cent of survey respondents were current or future dog owners.

For information or to provide feedback during the one-year pilot project, visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/dogs.

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Pardeep Purewal
Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533
Email purewalp@portcoquitlam.ca