Some Chilliwack dog owners are extremely disappointed with the gravel surface that now covers the Sheffield Way Dog Park.
A recent decision by City of Chilliwack to use gravel to fix a drainage issue has it looking more like a parking lot than a dog park, according to one area resident who said the gravel “should be removed.”
City officials say the method is being tested at Sheffield Way and they are seeking feedback on it.
Sheffield Way dog park is within a short jaunt from the Sardis home of Jeff Solomon, who relocated to Chilliwack about a year ago. He was especially pleased to note how close the grassy, green space was to their new home.
“This natural setting allowed us to run our standard size Labradoodle off-leash, allowing her to get the regular exercise that she requires,” said Solomon. “Having been away for awhile I returned to the park in late November and to my utter surprise and disappointment I discovered that the whole park had been covered in gravel.”
They didn’t stay very long. There were doggie companions aplenty but he said left because the gravel made running unpleasant. The sharp rocks filled shoes and got stuck in the dogs’ paws and coat.
There was also pooling water in the park the last time Solomon visited, which suggested that the gravel was not really an effective solution.
“Would you put gravel on a golf course? Of course not, so then why would you put gravel as a permanent base for dogs to run on a surface which is not good for the animal’s paws?” he asked rhetorically.
The problem is that the “so-called fix” negates the very reason people like Solomon take their their dogs to an off-leash dog park.
Park user Susan Dighton had similar sentiments, which she wrote in a letter to the editor published in The Progress, where she suggests that the “best dog park” in Chilliwack has been “ruined” by the gravel.
“We now find that all the grass has been dug up and replaced with sharp, compacted, dusty gravel,” Dighton wrote. “This material is not conducive to running because the gravel is hard on their paws.”
City of Chilliwack officials stated for the record that the gravel resurfacing was aimed at fixing a problem, and this method is being tested. The Sheffield Off-Leash Area has two separately enclosed spaces, a 2,300-square metre area for small dogs and a larger, 3,800-square metre area for larger dogs.
“Crews resurfaced the Sheffield Dog Park in response to complaints about conditions at the park during the rainy season,” according to the communications department at city hall.
“We want dogs and their owners to be able to use this facility year-round and are testing this surface to see if it improves park usability in the fall and winter.”
City officials are now seeking input.
“We always welcome feedback from the community and will use it to gauge the success of this project,” wrote the official.
But Solomon said he thought he was told it was a permanent solution in speaking to a city staffer, based on what other cities are doing.
He had a suggestion.
“As a resident, taxpayer and dog owner I am requesting that the gravel be removed and an alternative solution that will address both the drainage issues and safe running of dogs be put in place.”