Jasper dog park users are delighted with the new off-leash dog park, but as the days grow shorter, the area will see less and less use.
That’s because it’s a daylight-only facility.
I talked with Karl Peetom about it briefly last week. Peetoom, arguably Jasper’s most famous dog owner, pointed out come winter, the dog park will be good for star gazing, but not stick chasing.
“It’s just too bad we don’t have a light,” he said.
It’s a legitimate grievance. I’m not a dog owner, but even I can see how Jasper’s acquirement of a mostly-well-thought-out new facility near Sleepy Hollow Road is bittersweet. The upcoming short days will hardly allow afternoon dog walkers to make it to the fenced area before dusk.
Some history: The “bowling green”—the green space adjacent to the Aquatic Centre where dog owners let their animals off leash for years but which was never designated as an official dog park—was lit by peripheral street lamps. It was a situation that wasn’t designed, but owners got used to taking their dogs for a spin after the sun set. Work schedules being what they are, the evening is often the only time some dog owners can fit in a canine workout. Many an evening fetch session was had at the bowling green.
Now that the new off-leash area has been created, its ingenuity is somewhat lost for the fact that after dark, you aren’t supposed to go there.
I talked to Christine Nadon, the town’s communications specialist. I was genuinely impressed when I heard about all the thought that went into building the structure. It might not be the most handsome amenity we have in Jasper, but the unique doggie pen is certainly functional. The A-frame style reduces the chance of conflict with wild animals; it’s self-supporting; and it is easily disassembled—good for having to replace sections or adjust the size.
Despite it’s thoughtful design (kudos, Doug Rodwell), I remained dismayed about the user hours. Nadon told me when administrators signed a new license of occupation with Parks Canada, the town agreed to a dusk-til-dawn stipulation.
For now, the municipality hasn’t heard from dog owners directly that it’s a major issue. And there’s always the question of who pays for a new light, should the town and the feds write up a new agreement. But with winter’s short days almost upon us, it won’t be long before someone is barking up a tree.
My money says the chances that dog owners will come around to the time-restrictive license of occupation are worse than not stepping in dog poo in a pitch black field.
Let’s hope everyone sees the light.
BOB COVEY // BOB@THEJASPERLOCAL.COM