Summerland group continues to urge council to toss out beach dog park

Barking about dog park

Patience is wearing thin for some Summerland residents who are still up in arms over the temporary dog park at Peach Orchard Beach Park.

The “Restore Peach Orchard Park” group appeared before council on Monday afternoon as a delegation for their petition to take down the temporary pop-up dog park.

Council opted to create a pop-up one-acre off-leash dog park at the beginning of May last year, following years of struggle for Summerland to find a suitable spot for a larger off-leash dog park.

The district has had a battle between the canine-owning contingency of the community pushing for more off-leash area access, while others in the community complain about a loss of viable sports playing fields, impacts on areas should the pooches proliferate, or noise made by Fido and friends.

The district started with a temporary off-leash dog park in place at Dale Meadows Park on a pilot basis, after council voted down a proposed permanent installation of a 0.27 acre small dog run and 0.78 acre large dog run in 2022.

Then in 2023, the temporary fencing was placed at Peach Orchard Beach Park to create a pop-up one-acre off-leash dog park at the beginning of May.

A significant amount of feedback was received over the trial period between May 5 to Sept. 13, 2023.

Members of the petition group met with Castanet in December to express their displeasure, while mutliple dog owners using the park cheered its success.

Summerland council voted to try another temporary off-leash dog park before they decided whether a permanent one would be set up in the community, which hasn't come to fruition.

Since then, another location hasn't been formally proposed and the fencing remains in place. In the 2024 budget deliberations, $50,000 was included for establishing a permanent fence dog park, but the location was not part of the budget discussions.

During their presentation to council this week, representatives Lisa Slizek and Rachel Gauthier said the constant noise and nuisance from the dog park have negatively impacted more than 75 households and park users.

“Many families live within the natural amphitheater above the park. The large dog park has been forced inside one of our community parks zoned for everyone. Activities for the greater number of community members have been terminated, affecting their needs and quality of life,” Gauthier said.

They also have concerns regarding “dog control measures, the adequacy of bylaw support, the extent of public consultation, effects on ecosystem, and alignment with district planning initiatives.”

So far, the group said their online petition has collected 1,844 signatures to date.

“The trial period has ended,” Gauthier said.

“Summer is upon us, it is time to dismantle the fences and return the [park] back to us all.”

Any petition has to have specific full names and addresses before council can consider it, and then council can determine the relevance for those who signed.

Coun. Adrienne Betts acknowledged that the dog park has been a challenging issue and she appreciated the group’s time and efforts to speak.

In the public comment period, multiple residents came forward to express their displeasure with the park and urge council to make changes.

Temporary fencing remains in place at the Peach Orchard Beach for the time being.

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