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.
An off-leash zone/area for dogs is about to be built in Raymore Park. It will be located by the larger of two baseball diamonds and will have areas for small (< 20 lbs) and large dogs. There will be two gates and two paved pathways from the Pan-Am Trail for access. Unlike many leash-free zones, this one will be about 450m from the parking lot, and even further when Raymore’s parking lot is closed for the winter.
The area may be larger than the outline in the photograph because of the later addition of a separate small-dog section. Workers have already removed the baseball diamond fencing. The surface of the zone will be 4-6″ of pea gravel on top of a mesh filter which will help with drainage. TRCA is anxious that there be no runoff from the zone into the Humber.
Fencing will be post and paddle, 1.5 m tall and made of northern pine. It will be reinforced with wire mesh 4-6″ deep to slow down dogs that dig. Benches will be installed for owners.
The zone’s original opening was anticipated to be this spring but there was a delay in the opening of the area because of work on a retaining wall nearer the park entrance. This is taking much longer than the expected March 31st completion date but should be finished by October. There is only one entrance to the park and so the retaining wall and another job – an upgrade to the path will be done first; after that, sewer work will be ongoing. At the last meeting on the topic, council officials thought that the area would take about a month to set up and would be open by ‘Thanksgiving at the latest’.
TRCA has plans to plant trees along the north end of the area and between the zone and the ravine slope. This will provide storm runoff relief and shade for the area (and perhaps some sound mitigation for nearby homes).
Hours of operation: 7 am – 9 pm but people on foot will be able to access the area at any time. The parking lot will continue to be locked at 9:00pm daily and re-open at 8:00am and will be closed for the Winter between November 1st and April 30.
The area will be self-policing and residents are expected to supervise and pick up after their pets.
Here is Toronto City Council’s off leash code of conduct:
Municipal Code Chapter #608
Comply with all signs and boundaries.
Dog(s) must be on leash at all times except when in the designated off-leash area.
All dog(s) must have a visible municipal license affixed to the dog(s).
Dog(s) must remain in off-leash area so as not to trample or endanger plant material and other park resources.
Dog(s) excluded from off-leash areas include:
Pit Bulls or other dangerous animal
Female dogs in heat
Any dog(s) that has been issued a muzzle order by the Medical Officer of Health.
Dogs shall not chase wildlife.
Pick up after your dog(s) and place waste in receptacle or take home for disposal.
Keep dogs in sight and under control at all times.
Do not leave dog(s) unattended while in off-leash area.
Repair holes dug by the dog(s) under your control.