Score it Vernon Baseball 1 Vernon Dogs and Dog Walkers 0.
Vernon council voted at its regular meeting Monday, June 12, to install a fence at Okanagan Landing’s Marshall Field to alleviate the ongoing issue of interaction between dogs in the off-leash dog park and public spectator areas of the baseball diamonds (of which there are two, side by side).
The cost of fencing installation is not to exceed $45,000. Vernon Minor Baseball will chip in $10,000, and the remainder will come from city reserves.
“The issue is we’re trying to make that particular area multi-purpose, which is good, but when you have sports players, parents, balls and dogs, they don’t always meet in the middle,” said Coun. Kari Gares. “With the animals off-leash – and off-leash doesn’t mean ‘free range,’ you have to have control of your animal – putting in a fence is a good thing. One bad interaction (between dogs and humans) is a liability on the City of Vernon.”
What was proposed by staff was 330 metres of a four-foot fence installed along the edge of the main irrigated areas, which runs from the western end of the main baseball parking lot, southwest behind the two diamonds to the western corner of an existing fence well beyond the ball diamond.
Coun. Akbal Mund suggested modifying the proposal to bring the fence down behind the second diamond to the eastern corner of the existing fence, an idea favoured by Coun. Brian Quiring.
“He’s (Mund) giving an equal amount of area to baseball because they need that area as that’s where they’re practising, and giving the same area to dog walkers on the other side of the diamond,” said Quiring. “It’s a fantastic solution.”
Council voted 6-1 in favour of Mund’s amended motion, with Mayor Victor Cumming opposed, and 5-2 in favour of the original staff motion recommending fencing with Cumming and Coun. Brian Guy voting against.
“I think it’s a poor option (staff option), and the amount of money we’re spending doesn’t make sense,” said Cumming. “Yes, the conflict between dogs and ball players and spectators has been fairly well articulated. Those who walk dogs here fully respect that baseball happens from mid-April to mid-August, maybe a bit of the fall as well.”
Cumming said dog walkers are at Marshall Field during the morning, day and evening, while ball players and spectators only use the diamonds after 4 p.m. weekdays and throughout the day on weekends.
The mayor suggested putting in temporary fencing for 2023.
As pointed out by staff, the ball diamonds have been in place at Marshall Field longer than the dog park area. Staff also remind the public that currently no dogs are allowed on any of the sports fields.