For Christina Sall, who moved into an apartment and a few weeks later got Ella, a German shepherd-husky cross, during the pandemic, the dog park has become part of their weekly routine.
But the closest off-leash dog park is a 30- to 45-minute walk or 10-minute drive away.
“For a lot of people, that’s quite far for walking distance,” noted Sall, who said there are about 5,000 residents in her four-block radius.
So Sall, a nursing student, started doing some research and contacted the city about getting a new off-leash dog park in her community near the border of South Surrey and Cloverdale.
In Vancouver’s “People, Parks and Dogs Strategy,” it includes five types of off-leash dog areas: destination parks and destination trails, which would be accessible to the majority of residents within a 35-minute walk or a three-kilometre radius; and neighbourhood parks, urban areas and dog runs, which would be accessible to the majority of residents within a 15-minute walk or one-kilometre radius.
The destination parks would be more than 1.2 hectares, while the neighbourhood parks would be between 0.04 and 0.4 hectares.
“I’m not expecting anything big or anything substantial, just something that our community because there’s so many people in such a dense area from all the new buildings and the condos and the townhouses.”
In the City of Surrey’s “2012-2021 Dog Off-Leash Strategy,” it says that 94 per cent of open house survey respondents agree more off-leash areas are needed.
The strategy adds the recommended minimum size for the off-leash areas is about one hectare, “though sites between 0.5 and 1 ha may be considered.” The parks would also be classified into three types: neighbourhood to serve the immediate area, community to serve the town centre and destination to serve the City of Surrey.
Sall has created an online petition, change.org/p/we-need-neighbourhood-dog-parks-in-surrey, in an effort to bring awareness and hopefully push for more, smaller dog parks throughout the city.
“I expanded it to the entire City of Surrey because of being told that … their master plan will be coming up in the next year to change what their initiative for dog parks in the City of Surrey will be.”
However, an emailed statement from the city’s manager of parks Neal Aven, said “The city continues to implement the recommendations of our current Dog Off-Leash Strategy, including designing for small dog areas. While we do not have imminent plans to update the Dog Off-Leash Strategy, we anticipate that an update to the strategy is something that we would seek to achieve within the next few years.”
Sall, who said she stayed with a friend in Vancouver recently which had a few dog parks within walking distance, said it “made such an impact every day.”
“That’s kind of what I was hoping for Surrey because we’re moving into that area of having high-rises, we’re getting all these condos built around us and a lot of the Millenial generation or younger generation can’t afford to buy a house with a back yard for their dog to run around.
“The cost of housing is just going to go up. That doesn’t stop us from getting dogs.”