by Rhonda Massad
Dog play time has become a hot topic in recent weeks in the City of Beaconsfield in the wake of recent dog attacks in and around Montreal. Earlier this summer the City clamped down on dog owners who choose to run their dogs off leash by enforcing a long existing by-law.
First offenders can expect a fine of $100 plus $49 administration fee. Second-time offenders should be ready to pay double the amount.
To please as many residents as possible, the City has rushed through a disbursement to enclose the area known as the Luger Triangle, adjacent to Angell Woods into a dog run of 155,000 square feet. The dog run will be divided to include 25,000 square feet for small dogs.
“Safety and respect for the rights and freedoms of all citizens are principles that we promote in Beaconsfield. It is in this spirit that dog owners will have access to an enclosed site where their loyal companions can run and play in complete safety while respecting those who do not like to be bothered by dogs or are afraid of them,“ Beaconsfield Mayor George Bourelle stated.
In the meantime, the Luger Triangle is void of dogs and owners, but Beaconsfield Public security can be found on patrol making sure by-laws are enforced.
Several dog owners who do not agree with the recent enforcement of the bylaw showed up at the last public meeting to offer suggestions to the Mayor and Council. The exchange quickly deteriorated leaving dog owners who have been letting their dogs run free in the Luger Triangle since the city took over the property from Fresh Meadows Golf, frustrated.
Resident and dog owner Lorie Marcotte-Roberts attended the meeting and feels the Mayor was not open to their suggestions.
“People have been enjoying this open area without fences for more than 20 years,” Marcotte said. “We wanted a chance to offer a couple of suggestions, but the Mayor closed the discussion shortly after question period began. He never heard anything we had to say. When we asked why he simply responded – because I said so.”
According to Roberts, the residents hoped to encourage the Mayor to follow the rules outlined by neighboring town, Baie D’Urfé, where certain hours of off leash time were permitted leaving core hours for commuters to get to the train without concern for running dogs. Another suggestion was to provide a safe passageway for pedestrians rather than fence in the dogs. Roberts also hoped the City would not start ticketing immediately, but instead wait until the fence was built in Septemeber to impose fines.
“I am so pleased that the City took the initiative not to ban specific breeds. As most dog owners understand it is not any one breed that is aggressive, but the behavior of individual dogs that do not have the proper training or social skills that act out aggressively.”
Certain events that occurred earlier this year have prompted the Québec government to consider a new dog policy which will be announced in the fall depending on the recommendations of a working group put in place to study the issue.
Bourelle acknowledged earlier this month in an email exchange, that most of Angell Woods continue to be private property even though it was designated ecological by Montreal a few years ago and will not see any development. He also said that Beaconsfield has no jurisdiction over people trespassing to walk their dogs in the Angell Woods.
Angell Woods was designated for ecological preservation by the City of Montreal in recent years and is still primarily privately owned; trespassing dog walkers enjoy the space as though it is a designated park, but Montreal has not purchased the land from the owners yet.