Sackville Town Council has scrapped plans for an $80,000 dog park in Beech Hill Park.
At their meeting tonight, councillors came to a consensus that the project should be put off for at least year if not longer.
Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken appeared to speak for the majority when he said he thought Beech Hill Park was the wrong place for a fenced-in dog park.
“It’s too much money, a ridiculous amount of money for this,” Aiken said, suggesting that there may be better uses for the money given the potential financial stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
“This is just not the right time to do it,” he said. “This is one we can put on hold for a year, two, three years whatever, if we really want it in the future some time.”
Aiken said that as someone who has three dogs himself, he knows there are lots of places to exercise them.
Councillor Joyce O’Neil repeated comments she made last fall when she said spending $80,000 for a dog park makes no sense.
“Not when we have miles of streets and sidewalks here in town where people can put their dogs on a leash and walk their dogs for exercise,” she said at tonight’s meeting.
Letting dogs run
Only Councillor Bill Evans spoke in favour of a dog park.
“I’m not so dumb that I can’t read the writing on the wall here, but I just wanted to point out that the point of a dog park is the off-leash part,” he said.
“The fact that there are lots of places in town that you can walk a dog on a leash is not being disputed by anyone,” he added.
“There are very few places in town where you’re allowed to turn your dog loose and let them run.”
Town council initially allocated $25,000 for a dog park in last year’s budget after the town released a survey last summer showing strong support for one.
But councillors decided last fall to put the project off after learning that building two fenced-in areas in Beech Hill Park, one for smaller dogs and the other for larger ones, would cost $80,000.
The Beech Hill Park location, in a field beside the TransCanada Highway six-and-a-half kilometres from downtown Sackville, lost even more of its appeal in December when the Mayor’s Roundtable on Climate Change recommended that the dog park should be “as close as possible to the town centre to minimize the amount of driving and thus fossil fuel consumption undertaken by dog owners to get to the park.”
At tonight’s meeting, Councillor Andrew Black seemed to summarize the feelings of most councillors when he said he favoured maintaining the status quo — no dog park for Sackville.
“Like other councillors I was initially comfortable with the dog park — the $80,000 price point was a little high — but things change and my mind has been changed over time,” Black said.