Four City dog parks to be closed, all off-leash areas go on-leash as COVID-19 precautions extended

Effective Saturday morning, April 4, the City’s four fenced dog parks will be closed until further notice. As well, people using all 38 existing off-leash areas in Edmonton must leash their dogs. 

“The expectation is that we will be closing four fenced-off off-leash areas on Friday evening,” said David Aitken, chair of the City’s COVID-19 Task Team. 

“They’ll be closed Saturday morning,” he said. “We’ll be closely monitoring all of the other off-leash areas for overcrowding and taking those appropriate steps. But as of Saturday morning, all dogs within the city of Edmonton are required to be on-leash on public property.” 

David Aitken, COVID-19 Task Team Chair, City Hall, April 2, 2020

Mayor Don Iveson called the move prudent, and said “there’s still plenty of places to gather and plenty of dog parks that are now on-leash where people can still get together and have that social experience” without the animals contributing to owners not following physical distancing rules. 

The four dog parks to be closed are: Lauderdale, Paisley, Alex Decoteau (pictured at top of blog post) and Manning Village.

Find a map here that shows the former off-leash areas that remain open for leashed-dog use and enjoyment. 

Community Peace Officer Olivia Rogiani, Lauderdale dog park, April 1, 2020

Community Peace Officers

Olivia Rogiani is one of the City of Edmonton Community Peace Officers on dog park patrol, and whose job it is now to work with dog owners to get them to understand the off-leash to on-leash decision.

“I think you can help to maintain your physical distancing,” said Rogiani of the new on-leash rules. “You’re not chasing after your dogs. Your dogs aren’t physically interacting with other people.” 

Rogiani said the Animal Licensing and Control Bylaw already states that people with dogs in dog parks must have with them a leash no longer than two metres in length. 

“So, that can help you gauge your distance and keep a respectful amount of space between you and other dog owners,” Rogiani said. 

Officers will continue to monitor and educate, but will also be able to warn or fine people who don’t keep their dogs on-leash. 

David Aitken, City Hall, Edmonton, April 2, 2020

Other COVID-19 developments

The dog park decision happened on a day when the City’s COVID-19 Task Team directed the community’s attention to an emerging challenge on the Edmonton Transit Service. With shelter choices narrowing, some of the city’s more vulnerable people are turning to transit for shelter and gathering spaces. 

“Rec centres, libraries, and increasingly now, shopping malls, are closed or closing,” said Aitken. “And, recently, we’ve seen some unusually cold weather.” 

Aitken said the City is also seeing greater numbers of people riding transit for long periods of time and displaying disruptive behaviour, raising concern with customers, operators and City leaders. 

The Task Team has brought together experts from across the City and from social support organizations to meet the challenge. 

Security will be visibly increased at transit centres. As well, security guards and peace officers will conduct bus patrols and checks on routes, trains and stations, providing information about physical distancing.

In addition, the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (City of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Service, The Family Centre, United Way) will focus their efforts on the LRT and transit centres with an eye to finding help needed for transit riders. 

“This is a social issue and won’t be solved through enforcement alone,” said Jackie Foord, Branch Manager of Social Development with Citizen Services at the City.

“This is a time for kindness and compassion and we need to understand that all of our fellow citizens need support during this difficult time.”

On Thursday, City Council unanimously agreed to extend for another seven days the official State of Local Emergency in Edmonton.