A sign prohibiting dogs is now in place at a park in South Surrey.

Some parks now off-limits for dogs

City of Surrey banning canines at several parks with playing fields.

The days of walking Rover or Fido through parks with sports fields are coming to an end in Surrey, as the city is now banning dogs in several athletic areas.

In recent days, signs have gone up at City of Surrey parks indicating canines are not allowed – with or without a leash.

The move shrinks the green space available to Surrey’s estimated population of 127,000 dogs.

The problem isn’t so much the dogs, but what their owners leave behind.

Sporting groups are tired of having to clean up dog waste on playing fields before beginning games, and have lobbied the city hard to do something about the doggie-do.

Coun. Tom Gill, who sits on the city’s parks committee, said some groups keep a shovel in their equipment room to scoop up the feces before a day of play. He added that on many soccer pitches, the grass has been destroyed by dog urine.

The city looked at hiring a firm to clean up the poop, but found it was prohibitively expensive.

He said another concern are off-leash dogs, which have chased small children in the parks.

“When you’re six feet tall, you’re kind of okay, but when you’re two-foot nothing, scrambling around the field, you get a little bit excited,” Gill said.

Dog owners can expect a bylaw crackdown in some areas of the city where Surrey is receiving the most complaints.

People who are found in non-compliance of the new rules can face a fine of between $50 and $2,000. Most of the time, the fine is $200.

To accommodate the large and growing number of dogs, Surrey has devised its second long-term plan for off-leash parks: The City of  Surrey 2012-2021 Off-Leash Area Strategy.

It follows a 2001-2010 study that called for seven dog parks in Surrey, and now that those are built, the city has endorsed a pooch plan – based on a comprehensive $100,000 study – calling for 14 new dog parks by 2021.

Five of those will be cereated between 2012 and 2015, and will be located at:

• A lightly used corner of Bear Creek Park (Newton);

• Pioneer Greenway (South Surrey);

• Fraser View Park (Guildford);

• Panorama Park (Newton); and

• Bolivar Park (Whalley).

Those parks have community support for accommodating canines off-leash, with 94 per cent of people at area open houses supporting the need for more dog parks.

The study found that 38,000 dog owners visit a dog park every week, and almost 13,000 people said they visit one with their dog every day.

@diakiw

Surrey North Delta Leader

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