Eva Hompoth (right) and her dog

Eva Hompoth (right) and her dog

White Rock pooches will get a place to play

Mayor Wayne Baldwin says an off-leash area will be in place this year.

White Rock dog owners will likely get an off-leash park play area later this year, Mayor Wayne Baldwin said this week.

Baldwin was responding to a question at Monday’s regular council meeting from resident Eva Hompoth, the organizer of a low-key Feb. 12 demonstration outside city hall by about a dozen dog owners and their pets in favor of a dog park.

During the question period, Hompoth asked if the mayor would follow through on the dog park she said was promised during the municipal election.

“We didn’t make a promise, but we are looking at the possibility,” Baldwin said.

“I would anticipate this year.”

Hompoth said she is a cancer survivor who has had multiple surgeries and cannot drive outside White Rock to give her dog “Lola” a place to play.

She also would like to see the ban against dogs on the promenade lifted.

While Coun. Grant Meyer doesn’t support allowing dogs on the city’s waterfront promenade, he says they need a space to call their own.

“I do think that they deserve something,” Meyer told Peace Arch News Friday, in a call requesting PAN’s help to stimulate community input on the issue.

“I just want to generate conversation.”

Council earlier this month declined to entertain a motion by Coun. Helen Fathers to open up the promenade west of the pier to dogs and their owners from Sept. 15 to May 15. The motion followed a delegation by DOG White Rock representative Mike Armstrong, who asked the politicians to find some way to accommodate the estimated 40 per cent of city residents who own dogs.

Armstrong proposed that council move to allow dogs access to a stretch of waterfront west of the pier, away from a busier area east of the pier that the current bylaw dictates is acceptable.

The decision Feb. 6, however, was to have staff review the bylaw, and to include the issue as a topic in an April community forum.

Meyer said Friday he has been brainstorming and “bouncing ideas” off people for how to meet the need for increased access, specifically, a dog park.

Two places comes to mind, Meyer said: property on 148 Street that is owned by Epcor, and Maccaud Park, on Kent Street. As well, a few people have suggested the city initiate conversations with the Semiahmoo First Nation to see if access to some of their land can be negotiated.

Stressing there have been no discussions with the water utility regarding the matter, Meyer said he believes that particular site is worth exploring. Its proximity to Centennial Park means there is ample parking nearby; as well, it is central, he said.

“I think it could be a good option,” he said.

Maccaud, he said, is “under-utilized.”

Regarding the promenade, Meyer said the consensus he’s heard is that it simply isn’t feasible, given the walkway’s limited width, in combination with the volume of people that frequent it year-round.

He encouraged people who have thoughts on those options, or ideas of their own for where a space for dogs would be best-suited in the city to contact him at 604-345-1641 or gmeyer@whiterockcity.ca