It seems an off-leash dog park in Harrison Hot Springs is still a well-supported idea.
The Agassiz-Harrison Observer conducted an independent survey to get an updated snapshot of how locals felt about the possibility of an off-leash dog park.
During a recent Committee of the Whole meeting, council voted 4-1 (Mayor Ed Wood opposed) to seek further public feedback for a potential off-leash dog park in Harrison Hot Springs. Two locations are currently being considered: A one-acre lot adjacent to McCombs Drive and a half-acre lot at Hot Springs Road, normally reserved for overflow parking.
The Observer collected information over the course of five days. Ninety eight people responded to the survey.
The village conducted a similar survey in 2021, asking the public about possible locations, costs and other factors.
Support for an off-leash dog park in the village is relatively unchanged over the course of two years. In the 2021 survey, 87 per cent of 221 respondents supported an off-leash dog park. Two years, later, 86.6 per cent (84 of 98 respondents) support the idea.
Nearly 60 per cent of respondents supported building the dog park near McCombs Drive. Just under 20 per cent approved of the Hot Springs Road location, and 20.8 per cent replied with “neither.” The survey respondents offered a number of additional suggestions, including Firehall Park on Chestnut Avenue (27.6 per cent of the vote) and land south of the water treatment plant (9.2 per cent of the vote). Some favoured the McCombs Drive location because they felt the Hot Springs Road land was too close to the busy road. However, others argued that Hot Springs Road was a centralized location that both visitors and residents could easily find and use.
In 2021, a majority of residents favoured spending between $50,000 and $75,000 on an off-leash dog park. In the 2023 survey, 40 per cent of the respondents wanted the dog park to be funding by grant funding and donations only. Still, just over 32 per cent of respondents favoured the $50,000 to $75,000 option.The remaining 28 percent wished to spend between $75,000 and $150,000 on the dog park.
Sixty per cent of survey respondents wanted between $5,000 and $10,000 per year spent on maintenance; the next closest option was 20 per cent approving between $10,000 and $24,000 per year.
Those who responded to the survey offered a number of additional suggestions for the dog park. They include lighting, providing dog waste bags, an outhouse and locating away from the elementary school.
Some respondents were outright against the dog park, citing safety concerns, potentially irresponsible owners and potential cosmetic and pollution worries. Other residents simply wanted the decision-making process to be expedited, saying they have waited on council to take action long enough.
More than 78 per cent of the respondents identified as living in Harrison Hot Springs with another 15 per cent hailing from Agassiz. There were a few residents of Lake Errock, the District of Kent and Chilliwack who also answered. In the 2021 survey, 95 per cent of respondents lived in Harrison Hot Springs.
Just over two-thirds of respondents to the 2021 survey identified as dog owners; this question was not asked in the 2021 survey.