Leash Free Zone Proposed for Raymore Park

Two baseball diamonds have occupied the middle of the park for years and have been virtually unused for almost a decade. In that time they have been regularly mowed, the infield regularly graded and a few years ago, the batters’ cages were replaced and bleachers renovated. Because of the lack of use over the years, I suggested that the park manager consider planting some native trees and extending the growing canopy that already exists to the south. This would create a wildlife corridor extending the length of the park. His response was that plans were in place for a cricket or soccer field.

Toronto is committed to increasing its tree cover from the current 28% to 40% over the next decade. It is widely recognized that flooding events are ameliorated by tree cover. As recently as July 8th 2013, a rain event caused considerable flooding throughout Toronto because the sheer volume of water overwhelmed the sewer system. Trees and the ground beneath them are natural sponges that absorb water and release it slowly. In addition to providing cover for deer and other animals, tree cover tempers the local climate making it cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Now instead of trees, there is a proposal to establish a leash free zone for dogs in that location.

Aerial view of Raymore Park.

Aerial view of Raymore Park. (click to enlarge)

The ramifications of this proposal are huge.

  • The quiet nature of the park will be completely changed.
  • Wildlife (deer, waterfowl, foxes, coyotes, turtles, beaver etc.) will be adversely affected.
  • A considerable increase in car traffic into the park along with many more dogs.
  • Supervision will be difficult because of the distance from the parking lot to the proposed zone.
  • More dogs will be set loose as owners make their way to the zone.
  • The park is surrounded by homes; noise will be an issue for residents on both sides of the river.
  • An increase in motorized traffic along the Pan Am Path to empty garbage bins and provide enforcement.
  • Commercial dog walkers will be tempted to use the zone.
  • Raymore is a neighbourhood park in a quiet residential area; neighbourhood traffic levels will increase greatly.

As you can probably guess, I’m not in favour of the proposal. Councillor Rob Ford City Staff has have arranged a meeting to discuss the issue September 22, 2015 at 6:30 – 8:30pm in Hilltop Middle School’s Main Gym (35 Trehorne Drive). This City site outlines the process for allowing or denying an off leash zone.

Points of interest in the application process are:

  • The zone must also be approved by the Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority as Raymore Park is TRCA property
  • The zone would be fenced as it is adjacent to a tree planting area, a natural shoreline and not far from a playground
  • The number of licensed dogs in the area is taken into consideration
  • A shortage of off-leash zones in the area is not one of the criteria
  • Quote: “New off-leash areas will be considered in conjunction with capital redevelopment of existing parks or new park development against the policy criteria.”

In the meantime, the word needs to get out about this threat to the relatively tranquil and natural environment of Raymore Park. Please contact Councillor Ford to let him know what you think of this proposal.

Post Script: Dan Jacobs from Rob Ford’s Office contacted me with the following email:

Thank you for your e-mail.

A point of clarification – Councillor Ford was not involved in setting up this meeting, nor was he behind the proposal in the first place.  This has been initiated by City Staff.

Our office will be present at this meeting to make sure we hear directly from those affected by this proposal – there is no staff report that can substitute for input from the members of the community itself.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could amend or add to your blog post to reflect the above information.

Thank you in advance, and I look forward to meeting you on September 22nd.

So much for my reading skills! The info was in Rob’s newsletter and I put two and two together to get five.

Apologies to Councillor Ford and thanks to Dan Jacobs for the correction.

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8 thoughts on “Leash Free Zone Proposed for Raymore Park

  1. westonadam

    I, for one, am cautiously in favour. There are no off-leash areas around; the nearest one is at Jane and St Clair, I think.

    Certainly, impacts on the neighbourhood and wildlife should be taken into careful account, and perhaps Raymore Park is not the place for it. The northernmost part of Cruickshank Park should also be considered, since it’s not particularly busy. But there are some people–I know not whom!–who would love a place to take their dogs legally off leash, instead of furtively so.

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  2. Jorge

    I agree. I will oppose this as well. I am a dog lover but I also back into the park & do see a problem with this leash free area. I too can see a list of issues
    1 – disturbance of constant barking as dogs run after each other.
    2 – owners will get busy chatting with eachother so there will be a need for a leader of the pack. So dogs will try to establish this pack leader. Fights can break out.
    3 – parking issue. Where will all these outside people park their cars. The park gates close for the winter. No where to park causing traffic in our quiet neighbiurhood
    4- winter snow, easy to cover up dog shit. Let’s face it there r responsible dog owners & irresponsible owners. Come spring time there will be a whole mess of dog shit around.
    5 – Lots of foot traffic in the park with kids playing & walking the pathway. Many kids have a phobia of dogs even leashed. I have seen it.
    6 – how about the fresh aroma in the air when the park leash free area has been used for some time & the drifting odours are blown into our backyards while we are entertaining guests. Have you walked by some establish leash free parks like High Park. The is a foul fragrance in the air that just lingers.
    The list can go on. I say no leash free area. Exercise yourselves by walking your dogs through the park keeping a calm, quiet & stable raymore park that everyone can enjoy

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  3. Jill

    I am no longer a resident of the area, but visit monthly, bringing along my dog for a long leashed walk on the path in pleasant surroundings. For what it’s worth, I feel a leash-free would destroy the ambiance of this lovely natural environment.

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  4. JC

    As a new resident in the area, I agree that the neighbourhood of the city is woefully underserved when it comes to dog parks. Although I understand some of the concerns, with the amount of open space along the Humber River, it’s surprising to me that it’s taken so long to put aside a small space for dogs and their owners.

    As regular users of the Cedarvale off-leash park near our old apartment, I can safely say that concerns over smells, barking and fights are overblown. As for picking up after your animals, painting all dog owners with the brush of not caring for the environment is disingenuous. A perusal of the City’s map of parks also shows a significant number in much more populated areas than the situation at Raymore.

    My wife and I plan to be there tomorrow night to advocate for the park, and attempt to allay some of the concerns outlined above.

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    1. murraycr Post author

      Hi JC and welcome to the neighbourhood.
      Thanks for your response. I don’t think I painted all dog owners with ‘the brush’ of not caring for the environment but I’m sure you’ll agree that some owners don’t use parks responsibly (as happened in Cedarvale) and are a concern for all, spoiling things for everyone.

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      1. JC

        Thanks very much. I’m a central Etobicoke kid, so Weston is almost moving home.

        I agree there are always the few that can spoil things for the many, I just get worried when that starts driving the conversation at the outset.

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  5. Pingback: Off-Leash Meeting Thursday. | Friends of Raymore Park

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