Dogs take a walk on the wild side at off-leash zone

You could call it ‘a spot for Spot.’

Or put another way: some land west of the Toronto Transit Commission’s Greenwood Yards has gone to the dogs.

The land, just southwest of Danforth and Greenwood avenues, was designated as a dog off-leash zone just before Christmas. Toronto city council voted to approve the “regulation” of the land-putting an end to the illegal use of the property by dog owners who were walking their pets off-leash there anyway.

“People have walked their dogs there for 20 years,” said city councillor Paula Fletcher. “Everybody goes, probably 50 dogs a day, here and there.”

And some who have acted on that impulse have been suffering the consequences.

“They have been getting fined, I believe, $250,” Fletcher said.

The new off leash area will still be excluded from the use by commercial dog-walkers.

“Many dog parks in the city are neighbourhood dog parks,” Fletcher said, but “They are not dog parks for dog walkers.”

This one, she said, is for those living in the neighbourhood south of East York’s Danforth Avenue boundary. It joins other off-leash zones for families living in the southern end of East York. Those dogs and their walkers may also want to go to Riverdale or Withrow parks, which are just south of the eastern stretch of the Danforth – or, for those along Danforth’s western stretch, Monarch Park or the cluster of off-leash zones in playgrounds around Danforth and Woodbine.

Other public dog-free zones in or around East York are at Sunnybrook Park, Sandy Bruce Park, Evergreen Brick Works, Coxwell Ravine Park, Linkwood Lane Park and Stan Wadlow Park.

According to councillor Mike Layton, there have been conflicts with commercial dog-walkers in the past, and that led to the decision to not allow commercial dog-walkers in any neighbourhood parks.

“We have had issues on occasion with commercial dog-walkers that show up with four to seven dogs and let them all go,” Layton said. “You can’t really watch seven dogs at the same time.”

Layton added that there should be more off-leash areas for dogs.

“You look at the condo neighbourhoods specifically at the rate that they are growing in Toronto, and I don’t think anyone expected that dogs would almost outnumber people in those areas,” he said. “We need to make sure there are infrastructure available to them or we run the risk of conflicts in our parks.


This story was also published for the East York Observer

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