Cissie the Texas Heeler plays ball with owner Leverne Duckmanton. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Ucluelet dedicates off-leash dog park

“I think it’s great. Dogs need a space to run.”

District of Ucluelet council officially designated Frank Jones Memorial Park on Pacific Crescent as an off-leash dog park during the June 23 regular meeting.

Since the area, located up the hill from Petro Canada, has been unofficially used as a dog park for years, the new district designation will have very little impact on the neighbourhood and the existing programs, according to district staff.

“It’s totally ready to go. It just needs signage,” said manager of recreation and tourism Abby Fortune during the June 23 meeting.

Ucluelet resident and dog owner Leverne Duckmanton has been taking his Texas Heeler Cissie to Frank Jones Memorial Park every morning for a about a year.

“I think it’s great. Dogs need a space to run,” said Duckmanton.

Rita, who owns a hound dog called Buzz, agreed.

“I’m excited there is a permanent place I can bring my dog every day and play ball,” she said.

District staff looked at three potential off-leash dog areas: Frank Jones Memorial Park, Tugwell Park, and Seaplane Base Park, before electing Frank Jones as the off-leash park on a trial basis.

“Seaplane Base Park, although it does have a fenced area, operates programs and evening programming,” said Fortune.

“Little League was the only thing that is technically able to go in [Frank Jones Memorial Park] space. We only run Little League for six to eight weeks, and last year we did a trial run at Tugwell for the Little League program and it worked just fine,” Fortune went on to say.

Councillor Lara Kemps raised a concern.

“I’m having a hard time with the Frank Jones, one just because it was community built way back in the day. I’m fine for a trial, but in the long term it would be interesting to see a quote on lighting because that’s why the Seaplane Base one is used, and if we could move the lighting, it’s just the community built that I think is definitely important,” said Kemps.

Fortune said lighting at the Seaplane Base is not something that could easily be moved.

“I do understand that it is a community based park that was put into play, but at this moment, it is not really being used for its original purpose. I think this creates a good trial basis to see if this might work,” said Fortune.

Mayor Mayco Noel said he was supportive of the recommendation.

“I think this is the one that is turnkey,” said Noel, adding he would like to see a bit of history about Frank Jones included in the new signage. In 1983, West coast RCMP Cpl. Francis Eugene Jones was killed in a helicopter crash while on duty.

Fortune notes that they are looking at creating a historical signage board for the Little League park as well as Frank Jones Memorial Park.

“We are requesting that people focus on [Frank Jones] as an off-leash dog park and not use Tugwell. I think it’s very positive to have an area for dogs to go and run and play,” she said.

In addition to the dog park designation, the District of Ucluelet is currently looking into creating an overall master plan for the Tugwell area.

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