SCUGOG: The Port Perry Agricultural Society unanimously decided to reject a motion to add an off-leash dog park to the fairgrounds property on Wednesday, July 8.
The motion was originally made by Ward 5 Councillor Jennifer Back at the Monday, June 15 council meeting. She mentioned that a dog park is something that is overdue in the community.
“It’s something even (former mayor) Chuck Mercier said when he did his initial campaign in 2010, when he knocked on doors across the municipality. Leash-free dog parks and sidewalks were the things that came up most,” Councillor Back said. “Joggers and schools come there, it would be nice to have an area where dogs can be.”
As part of the motion, she also wanted the Care and Share Community Permaculture garden recognized in the lease.
“I think it is important for the lease to acknowledge the existence of the Community Care and Share Permaculture garden and that’s quite distinct from it being there at the pleasure of the fair board,” added Councillor Back. “It’s a fit and I would hate to see it go.”
However, the board also decided to reject the proposal to add the garden to the lease.
Agricultural Society fair board member Whitney Cohoon explained that the membership did not see any reason to have the garden in the lease. A garden, which was started by community volunteer Lynne Chase in 2013.
“I don’t think it needs to be in the lease because we already control what is on the fairgrounds,” she said.
Mrs. Cohoon also added that she has some concerns about the use of the fairgrounds site and ongoing upkeep of a possible dog park.
“Who would look after (the dog park)? It would also limit the fair, we would not be able to have a fair,” Mrs. Cohoon said.
However, Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten thought that both parts of the motion - the dog park and the inclusion of the garden - were “worthy of investigation.”
It was mentioned at the recent fair board meeting that there are currently locations within walking distance of the fairgrounds, all of which are owned by the township, and would be better suited to hold a municipal dog park.
Because of the motion, the decision on the signing of the new lease with the township was deferred until the Agricultural Society Fair Board had a chance to meet about the recommendations from council.
Mrs. Cohoon said after the June 15 council meeting that she felt the motion was a blindside from council.
“We were both in agreement what was in the lease and now it has to go back to council,” she said. “They have not come to any of our meetings and discussed it with us, nobody has come to us at all.”
The current lease expires in May 2016 at the fairgrounds, and the Society is hoping to be granted a ten-year extension. The matter is expected to be brought up at the next Scugog council meeting on Monday, Aug. 31. Despite the resounding votes, the board will still discuss the motion further prior to the matter going back before council.