Off-Leash Dog Parks in York Region by Carol Phillips

Off -leash dog parks by Carol Phillips
April 15, 2014

As naturally free-spirited creatures, dogs are such a delight to watch running loose… freed from the constraints of their leash and the human on the other end! Of course as any of you who have run into the friendly SPCA staff will know – dogs must be on a leash when out in public or you face a fine. That is why off-leash parks are such a treat for people and dogs alike.

As Spring is on us and we’re all outside more I thought I’d revisit some of the dog parks we have around our region. To help with the research I engaged the expert advice of my dog companion, Ivy, to compare the venues.

Tower Hill dog park (Tower Hill Rd and Yonge Street, behind Canadian Tire) was one of the first to open and the varied terrain still makes it one of the more interesting locations. Hills and dips, ideal for chasing a ball and treed spots for summer shade and other more ‘traditional’ dog activities makes it a popular place.

Phyllis Rawlinson Park (Leslie north of Elgin Mills) also houses an off-leash area however it has a less interesting layout, according to my technical advisor – essentially just a big fenced field. The fact an aquifer bubbles up just inside the entrance is a little inconvenient and there is often a muddy area as you enter and depart. The surrounding parkland however is lovely so if you get fed up you can always don the leash again and wander around the larger park itself.

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There are also dog parks in Stouffville and Markham and fundraising is going on right now in Newmarket to try and bring one to that community as well.

The two of us set out to have a look at the latest addition to the off-leash dog parks which is the first one located on York Region Forest property. Unfortunately, it wasn’t yet open (hope they throw an official opening day pooch party!) so Ivy was left to contemplate the red lock on the double gated entrance. However it is a great looking enclosure – generous size, with trees for the dogs and log benches for those of us who like to sit with a coffee. It’s located on McCowan Road just North of Davis Drive and it looks just about ready lay out the welcome mulch.
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These are but a few of the off-leash areas around our region with more being organized every year. Off-leash dog parks wouldn’t happen without dedicated dog lovers who organize everything from getting their community support for a location, to fundraising to cleaning up after less thoughtful users who don’t respect the rules. They are the ones who ensure that our four footed friends and their companions continue to enjoy the freedom and socialization that these areas provide us all. A big ‘bark out’ from Ivy to the volunteers and community leaders who enrich our region’s options through their efforts.