By Spencer Hall

At its latest meeting, the Village of Valemount Council decided not to move forward with a dog park using the plan developed by Urban Systems, which ran to the tune of over $375,000.

While I am a self-professed dog lover — my dog gets more room on the bed than I do most nights — it’s my opinion that Council made the right decision in not moving forward with the Urban Systems design, which for the price quoted may as well have included a ruby-encrusted agility course and canine planetarium.

This isn’t to say Valemount shouldn’t have a dog park. Many owners prefer to take their pets to enclosed outdoor spaces and dog parks provide a great opportunity for dogs (and their owners) to socialize. According to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, dog parks provide an enclosed space where high-energy dogs can burn off pent up energy. They also build community and camaraderie among dog owners. However, the Association also warns of the downsides of dog parks — increased chance of illness, injury, dogs learning bad behavior from other dogs, aggression, and anxiety. Dog park designs these days often include elements to reduce dog confrontations, such as hills to stop dogs from racing towards each other and separate fenced areas for smaller dogs.

But, as Mayor and Council pointed out at the meeting, the preliminary design provided was way over the top. The community can likely make do with a simplified and hopefully more economical design, though the Village should keep in mind the dog park may need more than just fencing to ensure the safety of dogs and their owners.