Lack of water a bone of contention
North York councillors at odds over water fountain at local dog park by Jo-Anne Craine
For years, North York resident and dog owner Paul Sobel has been asking the city to provide a designated water source for dogs in the Earl Bales Park off-leash zone, to no avail.
“If there’s no water for the dogs and no shade, and you have a German shepherd with black on him on an 80 degree day? You can’t keep your dog outside for 10 minutes. It’s dangerous for the dogs,” said Sobel, who estimated that he sees anywhere between 50 and 200 dogs there each day.
The Earl Bales dog park is located in Ward 10 but also draws many residents from the neighbouring Ward 23. A water fountain has been estimated to cost the city approximately $30,000.
Councillor James Pasternak, of Ward 10 York Centre, said he’s prepared to chip in half the cost but has called upon councillor John Filion, of Ward 23 Willowdale, to fund the remainder.
According to Pasternak, his office has had half the money set aside for years. However he noted that Sobel is not one of his constituents.
“[Sobel] was going to work with his local councillor [ John Filion] in the bordering ward to secure the other half. And he failed to do so,” said Pasternak. “Sobel’s local councillor has millions of dollars for park improvements from developments. We are not asking [for] the sun [or] the moon.”
However when councillor John Filion was contacted by Sobel, he said Filion referred him back to Pasternak.
“We referred him to councillor Pasternak with the explanation that capital funds are allocated by ward and that this type of project would not qualify for [Planning Act,] Section 37 funding in an area removed from where the funds were generated,” said Filion.
Sobel claimed to have delivered a petition of 200 signatures to Pasternak’s office and said he remains frustrated it’s taken so long to get any action.
Pasternak said over his six years in office he has seen the addition of benches, young trees and two structures that provide shade.
“I’ve been a strong advocate of dog parks from the moment that I arrived at city hall, and we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into them,” said Pasternak.
Pasternak said City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry & Recreation doesn’t currently have anything in the capital plan for a fountain, and there’s “nothing in the bylaw” about the city being required to provide one. Pasternak added that crowdfunding may be the only remaining solution.
“You can’t keep your dog outside for 10 minutes. It’s dangerous for the dogs.”