Dog walkers will have a fenced-in off-leash area at Vernon’s Marshall Field in the fall.
Council directed administration Monday to continue with the current policy of no dogs off-leash on playing fields but off-leash in a designated area until a permanent fence and signage are put up once summer is over.
The fence will be a four-foot-high galvanized chainlink fence to separate the soccer field from the off-leash area. Permanent signage with clear messaging to reflect the change, along with adding two additional garbage receptacles and bag dispensers, will also be included at a total cost of approximately $87,000.
“The cost is for everything,” said parks planner Susan Abbott when asked about the pricetag. Council had originally been told the cost of a fence would be around $54,000.
Abbott did say fencing costs have gone up since an initial inquiry because fencing is in high demand at this time of year.
Council approved the source of funds for the project to come from the 2018 year-end uncommitted unexpected balance fund. Administration will also put forward a parks master plan for Marshall Field in the 2021 budget which will include re-orientation of the soccer fields to provide an additional pitch, redevelopment and expansion of parking, and a review of options for a new playground at the facility.
Mayor Victor Cumming then moved a staff recommendation to spend $38,000 to protect critical habitat of the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad, recommended in an environmental assessment of Marshall Field Dog Park, by renewing a stewardship agreement with Victoria.
The city would also prevent human and dog access within mapped buffer zones by re-routing a portion of the existing footpath, placing interpretive signs and erecting temporary fencing across the retired foot path and ceasing all maintenance activity within the buffer zones.
“There will be significant positives by re-routing the access path across the north,” said Cumming.
Council was concerned about the pricetag, particularly Coun. Brian Quiring.
“We just want to put up a fence…We’re turning this freakin’ fence into a science project,” said Quiring. “It’s crazy. A $5,000 report to see where the path goes, where the deer sleep, I would consider. But $38,000? Give me a frickin’ break. It’s too much money. We’re building a fence for these dogs. Like, wow. We have to be more diligent with our money.”
After more discussion, Cumming removed his motion and asked for staff to come back with lower-cost options, moved unanimously by council.
A staff recommendation to move the footpath away from the bank of the oxbows at the eastern portion of the park to address safety and erosion concerns around Vernon Creek, at an estimated cost of $115,000, was not discussed by council.