The article written by Frances Bula for the Globe and Mail on the 12th August got me thinking about my previous life living in London, England a densely populated city. My closest “park” I could take my dog too, was Wimbledon Common, a large open space in Wimbledon south-west London, totalling 460 hectares (1140 acres) and out of the 1140 acres our dogs were allowed to run off-leash. Iam not exactly sure how long Wimbledon Common has been popular with dogs but I am sure it was as far back as the 1700’s or probably even earlier. The common is managed by seven Mounted Keepers (who deal with public safety and security) and are fantastic with dog owners.
Richmond Park is a 2,360 acre (9.55 km2; 3.69 sq mi)park within London. The park is double the size of Stanley Park, and once again you are allowed to exercise your dog without restrictions. As the park is an area of special scientific interest and a Nature Reserve, all dog owners are required to keep their dogs under control while in the park and in some areas you are requested to keep your dog on a leash.
Now this leads me to the reason why I decided to write about these parks and commons. Why the Parks Board won’t allow any off-leash trails in Stanley Park. Stanley Park is a 404.9 hectare (1,001 acre) urban park, slightly smaller than Wimbledon Common. Surely if the English can allow dogs off leash around Wimbledon common, we as the second largest country in the world, can allow a few off-leash trails in Stanley Park.
The concern is that the dogs will destroy the habitat. Hasn’t the natural forces of mother nature done this for us already? The first was a combination of an October windstorm in 1934 and a subsequent snowstorm the following January that felled thousands of trees, primarily between Beaver Lake and Prospect Point. Another storm in October 1962, the remnants of Typhoon Freda, cleared a 6-acre (24,000 m2) virgin tract behind the children’s zoo, which opened an area for a new miniature railway that replaced a smaller version built in the 1940s. In total, approximately 3,000 trees were lost in that storm. Another Storm ravaged the park on December 15, 2006 with 115 kilometres per hour (71 mph) winds. Over 60% of the western edge was damaged; the worst part was the area around Prospect Point. In total, about 40% of the forest was affected, with an estimated 3,000 trees damaged.
Living in an urban space with no off-leash area to exercise your dog will contribute to hyperactive dogs working off their pent-up energy. Exercise is used to counteract stress put on our canine buddies and for the amelioration of a wide variety of behavior problems. I understand not everyone loves dogs the way dog lovers do, but as dogs are becoming more and more like family members, surely we need to provide for them, the way we provide for our human families. Help us create more off-leash parks near people’s homes in order to avoid having to use their cars to drive their dogs to the permitted off-leash areas.