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Letters: Readers speak out about expanded off-leash opportunities in Port Moody's Bert Flinn Park

Last Tuesday (May 9), Port Moody council tasked staff to develop a plan to implement a pilot project expanding off-leash opportunities for dogs visiting Bert Flinn Park.
Currently dogs are allowed off-leash in Bert Flinn Park along a short section of service road at its eastern entrance. But staff will look at implementing a pilot project to create more off-leash areas in the park.

Last Tuesday (May 9), Port Moody council tasked staff to develop a plan to implement a pilot project expanding off-leash opportunities for dogs visiting Bert Flinn Park.

Here's what some of you had to say about the idea.

'A good step forward'

I live in Port Moody and our dogs regularly go to Bert Flinn. 

Port Moody really has nothing in the way of off leash for dogs . Giving the dogs an off leash time for the big loop would be a good step forward. 

As for people who worry dogs will wreck habitat or the foliage; they should worry more about the mountain bikers who have made all sorts of trails running through the park that I’m sure have caused more damage. 

Coquitlam has Mundy park which is a lot bigger, has just as much wildlife and way more people who use it; yet they’re able to accommodate both off leash time and people time . 

Port Moody needs to get with the times and provide more off leash space that is fun and stimulating for the dogs. After all the do take in thousands of dollars in dog licenses.

Just my opinion.

- Peter Dulson, Port Moody


More enforcement needed

More bylaw enforcement is definitely required.  

Implementing hours for off leash would simplify enforcement while at the same time allow dog owners the freedom to let their dogs run “free” while still under verbal control during these hours.  

At the same time, I would hope that the current off leash area would no longer remain as off leash 24/7, but would only be off leash during the specified hours.  

Our family has had negative interactions in different areas of the park, with off leash dogs and their owners.  It would be nice to be able to use the park during hours when we would hope to avoid these situations, assuming park users follow the rules.

Additionally, there is the existing issue of the amount of excrement left behind by dog owners.  

This needs to be addressed and considered; acknowledging this is a difficult task.  The increase in having dogs off leash will likely exacerbate this already existing problem.  

How many dog owners are going to go in the bush to pick up after their dog?  

As it is, bags full of excrement are being left on the trails, tossed into the forest, or left at the base of waste bins.  While some will argue that nature will take its course for the droppings left behind, there is the unpleasant side effect of the smell.   

A walk in the forest to enjoy nature and the fresh air should be exactly that.

Perhaps having a regular presence of Bylaws in the area would have a positive impact whether the rules change or not.

- Joanne Jesmer, Port Moody


Not everyone loves jumping, barking dogs

I walk Bert Flinn park daily, always avoiding the off leash dog area. 

It has been my experience many dog owners cannot control their dogs when off leash. I strongly oppose increasing the off leash area in Bert Flinn park.

If the off leash area for dogs is increased, this will reduce the area for others to use, as not everyone loves dogs jumping up on them or barking at them.

I also have friends who ride their bikes in Bert Flinn Park; they have been bitten and chased by off leash dogs.

- Barb Dickson, Port Moody


Dogs not as bad as other abuses in Bert Flinn Park

I live in Port Moody. I regularly enjoy the off leash hours at Mundy Park (Coquitlam) and the unrestricted off leash Barnet Marine Park (Burnaby). 

These are the only two areas in my immediate area that are picturesque and dog friendly to the off leash crowd. 

A fenced area strictly for off leash play is undesirable to me and my dog. They tend to be places of aggression because the dogs wrestle and get out of control instead of going for a walk in a relaxed and controlled manner.

 I admit that I also allow my dog off leash beyond the off leash roadway in Bert Flinn and I obviously support that the entire area in becoming off leash.

Many people need to realize that the damage of bike riding trails or decorating the trees during Christmas holidays vs dogs running along the trails is far more detrimental to the forest, causing serious erosion in several areas and general harm to the environment. I have often wondered why someone would decorate a tree with plastic decorations which birds and small animals could eat, bring back to their nests etc. 

Last year we counted 20+ decorated trees in Bert Flinn — a bit over the top I think.  

Sorry for the rabbit hole, but off leash dogs in that park should be the least of our concern.

The city has done a nice job protecting a few areas of the park by planking sections of the trail. 

Other ideas could be considered such as reducing overall usage in the trail network by closing trails, switching the primary paths to allow the forest to regenerate, or deliberately reforesting areas showing heavy erosion/ use.

Overall I agree that setting hours for off leash times is a great solution in any given park in the Tri-Cities. 

This would take the common sense/ subjectivity out of an owner‘s decision to leash for their dog’s safety or the safety of others on a shared path.

Thanks for listening,

- Karen Rumak, Port Moody


Courtesy needed

I walk my dog at Bert Flinn typically three or four mornings every week with a small group of other dog owners.  

We love Bert Flinn Park because it offers a variety of terrain, well maintained trails and soul-soothing atmosphere.  

We all appreciate that our dogs can run and play freely for that 1 km stretch but agree that extended hours and off leash boundaries would be much more beneficial for our furry friends and makes more sense.

We and pretty much everyone else are all as courteous as possible to hikers and bikers that we encounter along the way and also respect those dog owners who have their pets on leash. Not all of them show us or our dogs the same courtesy.  

In fact, we have been the target of snide remarks and dirty looks on a number of occasions — even along the off leash trail.   Go figure.

You will never please everyone, but we certainly appreciate that the city council is looking at a little more flexibility to benefit a growing demographic (dog owners who like to hike with their dogs)  in the community.

- Rhonda Vance, Port Moody


Port Moody underserved with off leash areas

In regards to the pilot project of possibly allowing a larger portion of Bert Flinn Park to be off leash for dogs; this is much needed!

We must remember that the Tri-Cities is absolutely full of walking trails and parks. Also, the north side of Coquitlam in Port Moody, Anmore, and Belcarra, is full of walking trails where dogs are required on leash.

Mundy Park and Burt Flinn are the only two areas where there where there is a designated free, run off leash area that is not a gated small park, full of mud, gravel, and pee.

Please, Port Moody give us this one spot to allow our dogs to roam free.

- Kelly Raabe, Port Moody