By Keith Lacey
Rosco, an extremely friendly 18-month-old pitbull, was giving the new off-leash dog area in Lion’s Park four paws up after a visit on opening day last Wednesday.
The Town of Oliver officially switched the site of the community’s off-leash park from the ball diamonds at Oliver Community Park to a new fenced-off area in Lion’s Park, effective Nov. 1.
One of the very first visitors last week was 25-year-old Kendall, her male friend Major and Rosco.
Kendall said she had brought Rosco to the community park, but she and he much prefer Lion’s Park.
“I didn’t know this was the first day for this park, but it’s awesome,” she said. “I had brought him to the old place and it was all right, but this place is nicer.
“You can easily see that it’s a dog park and being able to have him run off-leash is great.”
Kendall moved to Oliver from Princeton three months ago and said taking Rosco out for a daily run to the new dog park is going to be part of her daily routine.
“There were places at the dog park I was using in Okanagan Falls where your dog could wander away if you didn’t keep a close eye on him, but the new park is completely fenced off and you don’t have to worry about him running off,” she said. “It’s got beautiful grass and the scenery is really nice, so I’m pretty happy about it.”
Kendall said she had talked to several other dog owners and most of them agree that the new location at Lion’s Park is an upgrade from Oliver Community Park.
“I will be down here as often as possible,” she said.
Doggie bags and a watering station are readily available, the park is easily accessible and there is plenty of parking, she said.
“It’s a really nice place,” she said. “I could tell Rosco loved it from the second I took his leash off. We’ll be down here almost every day for sure.”
Lynn Urekar, visiting from Richmond, is also impressed with the new off-leash site. In fact, she said it’s nicer than the ones in her area.
“This is a really nice dog park; you can walk here from the walkway (hike and bike trail).”
She also noted it’s a great location because, if you have children, they can play in the park while you play with your dog.
Urekar said she likes the fact the new dog park features a separate area for small dogs.
When asked what she thought of having an off-leash park in a baseball diamond, she said that a sports field is not the best location for dogs.
But one local dog owner who lives near the community park, said she prefers the old park because of its convenient location.
The women, who didn’t want to give her name, said she used the old park every day, and contrary to what was previously reported, she didn’t see a lot of dog feces around.
“It was not necessary to kick people out. It (the ball diamond) sits empty 10 months of the year. Why couldn’t it be dual purpose?”
She pointed out that even dog owners from Osoyoos and Penticton used the off-leash area in the ball diamond.
However, the women did say the new fenced area in Lion’s Park is very nice.
Carol Sheridan, manager of Oliver Parks and Recreation, said the feedback on the new dog park has been positive.
“People like how it makes the overall park look, that the off-leash space has more trees and seating and the addition of the area for small dogs only.”
Sheridan said people have been telling staff how nice it is to have parking right at the park, and they have heard good things from people who live along the hike and bike trail.
As expected, people are voicing concerns about the change of use at the ball diamonds, Sheridan said.
Some people question what it will be like at the new dog park during the summer months at the peak of the fruit-picking season when migrant workers have their dogs.
“We are planning for lots of communications with dog owners in the spring,” Sheridan said.
She pointed out they will rely on their relationship with the Town of Oliver and bylaw enforcement to help create a positive atmosphere.
With files from Lyonel Doherty