Public to have say on dog memorial
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 06:00 am
Dog owners looking to pay tribute to their pooches may be on their own to establish a memorial in Black Diamond that meets the Town’s bylaws.
Black Diamond Town council agreed at its Oct. 4 meeting to post an online survey to collect ideas and suggestions regarding a pet memorial, but it will be up to interested citizens to see the project through.
“We shouldn’t be investing a lot of time or resources from administration,” said Mayor Glen Fagan. “This is a community initiative. I think we should provide some direction… and put something on our web page saying these are the bylaws and procedures that govern the decision-making.”
Members of the Friends of Black Diamond Dog Park Facebook site submitted a petition with 54 signatures to the Town on Sept. 7. They are requesting a dead tree in the dog park become an official memorial after pictures of dogs posted on the tree last summer were torn down on two occasions.
Fagan said while the petition didn’t have the required 10 per cent of the town’s citizens sign it, he said it’s still an expression that a dog memorial is something residents would like to see.
Sharlene Brown, chief administrative officer, said last summer’s makeshift pet memorial was located on property belonging to the Westend Regional Sewage Services Commission. In addition, Brown said benches in the park had been painted in violation of the Town’s parks bylaw.
Some park users were given permission by the Town’s parks and recreation manager to paint railings on a bridge in the park, but Brown said the entire bridge was painted, which resulted in health and safety concerns.
“The deck had a special non-slip coating so when the sun shone on it, it would melt the snow and ice,” she said. “That coating has now been painted over. We have to fix it before there is an issue where we can be held liable for someone skipping and falling or their pet getting hurt.”
Posting pictures on public property violates the parks bylaw, said Brown.
“The town will not be allowing photos of pets, even though it’s a very nice thing to be able to do,” she said, adding they could blow off and create litter.
Deputy mayor Mike Ross said he doesn’t see the dog park as a suitable location for a memorial.
“I can’t see us getting involved in helping build anything because even if you put a cairn down at the dog park it’s going to wash out the next time you have a major flood,” he said, “Nothing is going to be permanent down there.”
Black Diamond dog owner Maura Cassidy said she sees no other suitable location for a memorial.
“Obviously we want it where we walk our dogs,” she said. “It should be in the dog park where we have taken our dogs. To have a memorial any other place just seems idiotic to me.”
Cassidy had expressed her concerns to council about the pictures being removed from the tree during the question and answer period at its Sept. 6 meeting.
She said she is happy with council’s decision to put an online survey out to residents.
“I think it’s probably the best idea, I really do,” she said. “It’s a park for everybody so the majority should have a say.
“All we want is just to be able to put up pictures with dogs and their names and nothing else.”
Coun. Ruth Goodwin supports a survey.
“I do believe it’s something that’s worth the survey and that’s something that possibly can come back to council and maybe some problem-solving decisions with those members that are looking at possibly erecting some type of memorial,” she said. “I think it’s fair enough to put the question out there.”
Coun. Jackie Stickel said she doesn’t want the town to pay for a pet memorial.
“Where are we going to do it and who is going to maintain it,” she said. “I don’t think we should be spending a lot of taxpayers money looking for alternative space.”
She said the survey will give council and administration a good idea of how the public feels about the subject overall.
“We will get a better feel of how the community really feels,” she said. “Then we’re gathering information at the same time.”