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.