Dog park organizer dismayed over delay in location hunt

By Andrew Bates Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

SAINT ANDREWS – The Saint Andrews dog park committee says it needs an answer soon on a final location after the town asked for more time to find a replacement.

The citizen-led initiative ran a fundraising campaign for a year trying to raise $60,000 to cover half the costs toward building on a site at the Harry Mallory Sports Field. In August, with the campaign sitting at $13,000, representatives for the project asked town council to scale back the plan to another site in the park that requires less landscaping and would require only $20,000 from the committee, with the town contributing the rest.

At the town’s most recent meeting, chief administrative officer Chris Spear said staff still had issues with the new site between Cemetery Road and the field, including accessibility concerns around a slope for the section for large dogs, drainage and concerns from a neighbour. He also mentioned concerns that people will park on the road instead of the planned spots around back.

“They hope to have an answer by tonight. I’d say instead of saying yes or no … give us some time, we’ve identified two or three other locations,” he said, including privately owned land, including one site where the owner came forward since the August meeting.

“We’re actively looking for something that’s going to reduce the cost substantially, while putting in it in a location that’s a bit more favourable than … the current proposed location.”

Spear asked to propose the new sites at the second November meeting, with money set aside in the budget for a build next year, supposing that the group’s funding will not be in place until then.

But during the question period of the meeting, committee chair Cara Harvey took to the microphone and said the group has continued to see delays in selecting the location, saying that Mark Finley already took time in March to sit with the town and look over alternatives.

Harvey added that with an auction coming soon, they anticipate hitting the $18,000 mark, and may be able to close the gap with corporate sponsors, some of whom are waiting for a concrete answer on the location to join in.

She said the push for a dog park first began 10 years ago before revving up again, and that since the campaign ramped up in 2020, they’ve had to switch leaders twice, including Finley, who moved away after the August meeting, Harvey said.

“We’re really running out of steam,” she told council. “We’re losing momentum by the day. There’s only so much we can do.”

Spear said it’s not a simple process and they’re working things out with external landowners, and moved up the timeline to the first October meeting, saying that if council approved it the town could possibly get the money this year.

“It hasn’t been forgotten,” he said. “When you at least meet that initial goal, I’ll work my best … maybe by the October early meeting.”

Telegraph-Journal