A couple of things that seemed clear when the Raymore Park dog off leash area (DOLA) was first proposed were;
1. The DOLA was a done deal regardless of input.
2. Pea gravel would be the surface of choice rather than more paw-friendly wood chips.
At the community meetings to discuss the DOLA, residents brought up the issue of the pea gravel as being irritating.
SInce the DOLA was constructed, two main issues have been pointed out to Toronto Parks directly and also through Councillor Mike Ford, namely that the pea gravel irritates dog paws to the point where some simply shut down. The other issue is that access to the small dog enclosure requires running the gauntlet through the large dog area. These two factors may well explain the unexpectedly low numbers using Raymore Park’s DOLA.
Neither issue seemed likely to be acted upon but now there is a glimmer of hope at least for those who dislike the irritating pea gravel.
According to the Toronto Star, a partially blind woman in the east end of Toronto found the pea gravel of her local DOLA irritating to her dog and also fell and broke her cane on the uneven surface. Instead of using the DOLA, she regularly allowed her dog to run off-leash outside the permitted area and eventually received a $261 ticket.
The lady has decided to take the city to court over the fine stating that the gravel is an unsuitable surface and has demanded that it be replaced. Ironically, the local park association raised $20,000 in order to replace the original but unsuitable crushed granite surface. The city opted to spend the community’s money on pea gravel.
The whole point of a leash free zone is to allow dogs to socialize and get some playful exercise. While pea gravel may be wonderful for drainage, if dogs can’t or won’t use the surface, there’s no point in having a DOLA.
If this lady wins her argument in court, there may be a case for replacing the pea gravel throughout Toronto’s DOLAs.
Call me old-fashioned but I think if I had responsibility for a park or two, I might visit them once in a while.
Garbage issues continue to plague Lions Park and the reason is because there is no follow-up by anyone in charge. Phoning 311 gets someone to do something immediately but after that nobody follows through to see if the problem remains solved.
The City manages TRCA parks in Toronto. Management and garbage collection are performed by separate departments and nobody seems to talk to each other.
The problem remains with garbage bin placements. Because there is a soccer field, players practise using the bins as movable goalposts. Each time the problem is reported, a fix is made but it never lasts. Currently there are over a dozen bins scattered around the field but empty spots where they should be.
I have reminded the folks at the City that bins need to be chained to a well-secured post if they are to be useful in Lions Park. Here’s the latest response for bins at the bottom of the new steps:
The padlock is still locked because the people who empty the bins probably can’t be bothered to use a key and so they re-secure the bins with the quick release rather than the padlock.
I won’t bother phoning 311 – it’s a waste of time.
The new leash free zone has taken some of the pressure off the wild area. The evidence for this is the fact that the old path is quite overgrown.
The lack of dogs and humans is also helpful to new plantings that are part of the rehabilitation of the former staging area. The bags at the base of some of the trees are containers which allow water to be released slowly (I always wondered). The brand name is Tree Gator.
Quite a few dog owners and their pets were present on Monday evening for the official opening of Raymore Park’s leash free zone. Councillor Mike Ford had organized the event and worked the crowd, introducing himself informally to residents and later made a short speech. People seemed pleased with the facility but the councillor heard a few concerns; namely that the topping of ‘pea gravel’ used to improve drainage seems to bother some pets. The lack of shade was another issue as was access to the small dogs’ zone (currently entered from the large dogs’ zone).
Councillor Ford seemed sympathetic to these and other concerns and promised some consultation with the people from Toronto Parks (Parks Supervisor Lynn Essensa was in attendance). He also sympathized with the patience of residents who have put up with Raymore Park’s long period of being a construction zone and said he was working on getting the last remaining project (sewer pipe re-lining) expedited.
The new leash free zone is almost complete with a glaring exception and a puzzling oversight.
There is no signage or anywhere to put the poop bags / cigarettes butts and coffee cups that the zone will generate. There is also some work left to ensure the fencing is well attached. Still, for a Toronto project it has been constructed relatively quickly, especially considering that two other major projects have been happening in the vicinity.
One major design flaw seems to be with the small dog enclosure.
There are two double-gated ‘airlocks’ that ensure safe entry of new dogs without allowing an unleashed dog to suddenly dart out into the park. So far so good. Unfortunately both gates lead into the large dog section.
I would have made one entrance for the large dog enclosure and a separate one for smaller dogs; but then, I’m not an expert.
Unless something changes, it looks as if small dog owners will be forced to run the gauntlet through the large dog enclosure.
As I was taking photographs, an elderly gentleman walked by with his Jack Russell off leash, ignoring the zone. That might be a problem with this particular zone – it’s just so much nicer in the rest of the park.
Only time will tell if people will actually make use of the zone and follow the rules once they’re posted. There certainly seems to be no difference in the behaviour of many people who still come and go with their dogs off leash.
Work proceeds in full swing on the sewer relining project. Instead of replacing the sewers, new linings are being pushed and pulled to line the insides of the original pipe. Apparently this will allow a few more years before the old pipes need to be replaced. This means another 18 months of heavy slogging along the Humber valley.
The footbridge connecting Lions Park with Hickory Tree Road is almost complete and will make a difference to the many people on foot who move between Weston and Etobicoke. The new version is wider, all metal (except for railings and trim) and has viewing decks that will be useful during soccer games on the artificial turf below.
The new bridge shouldn’t require salt (the old wooden one was regularly salted in winter) and it will have bicycle troughs for walking bicycles up and down.
The leash free zone further down Raymore Park is taking shape. The surface has been laid and fencing is under way. The two areas for different sized dogs are becoming evident. This project should be ready by summer.
Finally, although the Humber River retaining wall was completed late last year, the staging area used to construct the project has been restored and now this blank canvas awaits re-planting, hopefully this spring.