Semiahmoo First Nation announced Thursday it is fencing the west side of Semiahmoo Park.
But the band council says it is keeping the park open to the public “on a trial basis” and that it welcomes and encourages visitors during daylight hours – provided they don’t bring dogs or other pets with them.
Band councillor Joanne Charles said in a prepared statement that fencing work, which started on Wednesday, was expected to take two weeks to complete.
Three gates along the east side of the parking lot would be open dawn to dusk to allow public access to the park, she said. New rules will also be posted throughout the almost four-acre area, which will now be entirely fenced by the band.
The east side of the park was partially fenced off in December by the band, which cited safety issues due to a sinkhole on the property and concerns over lack of respect for its land by dog owners. That part of the park is still closed while it undergoes environmental assessment, Charles said.
“This was not an easy decision for us to make, as we do recognize we have shared this park with our Surrey and White Rock neighbours for 50-plus years,” Charles said of the new fence. “However we do feel it is important for the Semiahmoo First Nation to preserve and strengthen our ownership of the land.”
Charles noted that Semiahmoo Park appears on numerous websites as an off-leash dog park.
“While we have nothing against dogs, or pets of any kind, we do want to correct that perception.”
The posted rules prohibit pets. Special events will be permitted, depending on approval by Semiahmoo First Nation.
“We are – and hope to always remain – on the friendliest terms with our neighbours,” Charles said. “We just ask that all visitors to the park respect the rules that will be posted. It would be unfortunate to have to close the park in the event the rules are not obeyed.”