Corktowners ‘bitching’ about lack of dog park

Orphan’s Park between Adelaide & Richmond, east of Power likely new off-leash spot, says councilor’s office

By Frank Touby –

Corktowners have been having a bitch of a time getting an off-leash park for their dogs. And they’re accusing city bylaw enforcement officers of behaving like S.O.B.s in stomping down on them when they unleash their pets in Sackville Park on Queen St. E.

One resident who wouldn’t identify himself says he is on the lam from a provincial offences officer with city parks bylaw enforcement section, whom he claimed behaved like a cowboy, drove his truck right onto the park grass to confront him, and intends to slap him with a $650 ticket for having his dog off leash in the park.

“He said he’s got six months to find out who I am and hit me with the ticket,” said the miffed dog owner, who refused to tell the bylaw officer his identity. “The guy said in six months he’d have handcuffs and arrest powers. I feel like a criminal. I can’t go to the park. I have to walk my dog in other places where there are hazards like broken glass. I’ve spent $850 in vet bills because my dog cut her foot on that.”

For years, Corktown residents have attempted to get their park designated for off-leash activities but city hall has variously ignored or lost their applications.
Corktowners say Councilor Pam McConnell has been useless in their cause to get a nearby off-leash facility so they don’t have to drive to one.

Councilor Paula Fletcher very quickly got an off-leash designation for a park in her Riverdale ward, they say, and Councilor Kyle Rae got a fenced area of Allan Gardens in rapid order. McConnell’s aide, Tom Davidson admits the Corktowners have been let down somewhat—more by circumstance than design—but says the issue is more complicated for their area.

Mainly, Sackville Park is not likely to be approved for off-leash because of its small size and the childrens playground equipment that’s in place there.
Further complicating things, he says, is that the City Parks Department came up with a new protocol and strategy for selecting off-leash park sites and that has only recently come into effect.

And the Allan Gardens off-leash site was a simple matter of fencing off an area in a huge park.
What’s most promising, he says, is so-called Orphan’s park at Adelaide and Richmond streets; a strip of land that once belonged to the Catholic Church and was used by nuns to house children made orphans in early Toronto by a devastating cholera epidemic.

That land is owned by City Transportation Depatment, is surplus to their needs, and very likely to be approved for an off-leash area.

Since it’s also a gateway to the city from the Don Valley Parkway, with grass often unattended and occupied on occasion by homeless, a park is a better greeting to those entering Toronto by car.

Davidson says the Parks Department is actually excited about the Orphan’s Park site. He says there will be a public meeting in Corktown very soon about the application for an off-leash park.