Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

By Erin Knutson

The City of Fernie recently unanimously approved the 2023 Railyard Dog Park plan laid out by the Fernie Pets Society (FPS) to help the city enjoy fewer human-animal conflicts.

“Based on the outcome of the initial partnership, staff was directed to engage the FPS to determine if the partnership could extend to another location in the city,” said a staff report.

The animal society is still completing work at the Railyard site, selected for its space and location.

“Its location was chosen for its size and proximity to residential areas. In addition, it was zoned as municipal park land, and at the time (2011-2012), it was being used for industrial waste storage and disposal as well as a designated snow dump,” said the report.

The site holds power lines for BC Hydro, which made it an ideal location to install EV charges as part of the plan.

City staff was requested to help the pet society with additional area clean-up for up to 60 hours, according to Director of Parks, Facilities and Recreation Brett Logan.

“The joint project would remove hazards emerging from the underground to the surface in a day’s effort to clear an area that would be difficult for volunteers,” he said.

Consultation on the park began in 2013, with an updated and improved service provider agreement drafted in the summer of 2022 with a five-year lifespan, culminating in 2027.

The updated plan includes signage stating rules and regulations for the park while providing a waste station for owners to dispose of pet refuse and adequate shelters and seating for everyone, including pets.

Dogs will enjoy more than one acre to run and play, a hydration station, obstacle courses and exercise equipment tailored to them, segregated areas for large and small breeds, adequate park fencing, and a simulated water structure to enjoy.

According to Logan, the park is aligned with the Official Community Plan (OCP) and will serve as a model for the potential of other dog parks in the future.

“This is a preliminary project to explore other locations that are part of the Railway Dog Park OCP addition. It’s fantastic, and clearly, there is a need for more dog parks,” he said.

According to council comments, dog licensing could be improved with the arrival of the parks.

“There is a model in Calgary that was successful, creating a bylaw as well, that served as a rewards program that would benefit the dog owner in higher compliance that could be used with other sites,” said Logan.

Either way, according to the city, FPS’s involvement enhances Fernie’s ability to monitor dog licensing.

“The Fernie Pet Society increases dog licences on our radar – this sounds like a great initiative,” said Director of City Planning Bruce Lennox.

See the City Staff Report.

See the Fernie Pet Society’s Fernie Railyard Dog Park annual report and project plan.

Lead image: The project location as per the Fernie Pet Society’s Fernie Railyard Dog Park annual report and project plan.