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Newton ‘bark park’ move has some dog owners howling about city’s temporary fix at Unwin Park

‘The other dog park was great,’ one dog owner says. ‘I won’t use this park’
Courtney Abraham with her dog Riddick at the temporary “bark park” off-leash area in Newton, at 68 Avenue and 134 Street. Some dog owners in the area are upset that the facility has moved from 135 Street and 70A Avenue, where Newton Community Centre will be built. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Some Newton-area residents aren’t happy that a “bark park” for dogs has moved to a temporary new home at Unwin Park.

Since 2016 an off-leash area has attracted dog owners to the corner of 135 Street and 70A Avenue, where the new Newton Community Centre will be built over the next three years.

About 750 metres away, city hall has fenced off a lot at 68 Avenue and 134 Street for another bark park, but the location, among other issues, has some dog owners howling.

“This is not acceptable, it’s just too small and not the right location,” complained Esterina Marziale, who runs a pet-care service. “The fence is too low for bigger dogs, who could jump right over this and run into traffic. We need a five-foot fence, and this plastic, it’s not good enough. It needs to be chain-link.

“I would never bring my dogs here, for all these reasons.”

• RELATED: New drawings show $100M Newton Community Centre, to include 50-metre indoor lap pool.

City staff contend that the new location brings the off-leash area into a more central location in Newton.

Also, the original bark park was created six years ago “as a temporary measure within a private property/vacant lot to encourage positive activities on the undeveloped land,” according to a statement from the city’s Parks, Recreation & Culture department.


Newton has five off-leash areas for dogs, but the one at 135 Street was most popular with residents of the nearby Greenbrook building managed by BC Housing, including dog owner Courtney Abraham.

“The other dog park was great, and everyone helped build it and it was good for the people in the community,” Abraham said while letting her dog Riddick run free at the new Unwin site. “Over there (on 135 Avenue), there’s less prostitutes now and less condoms and drugs, needles, on the ground, less camping, because the field used to be used for that.”

“It’s a longer walk here. I won’t use this park.”

Some of her concerns are echoed by fellow dog owner Parm Singh. “That fence is nothing, there are big dogs that will jump right over it,” he said while walking by the Unwin site with his dog, Tyson.

Surrey’s manager of parks, Neal Aven, said the fence height is standard for off-leash parks in the city, and emphasized that the Unwin Park site is temporary.

“This fence is different because we recognize that this is meant to be a short-term fix — temporary, of course,” Aven told the Now-Leader. “We have a medium-term plan to revisit the entirety of Unwin Park. On the west side, for example, there are a bunch of parcels that have become park land over the years but nothing has ever been built there. We need to take a holistic look at the entire park, which would include reviewing where an off-leash area might be. It might be that this is the area, or we might configure it in a different place.”

Marziale is frustrated that the 135 Avenue bark park was taken away from dog owners after six years of use.

“That park (on 135 Avenue) is more than five years of my life — I was there when the ribbon was cut and I used to mow the grass, too. We wanted it to stay there and be part of the new community centre, but here we are.”

“There’s no street parking here and the grass is really bad, too,” she said of the Unwin site.

“They say this is temporary,” Marziale added, “but it could be three or four or five years before a new one is built here. They’re going to revamp the park and eventually put in a dog park, but now we’re stuck with this.

RELATED STORY, from 2020: New dog off-leash area pitched for Surrey park that’s home to an equestrian facility.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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