Neighbours rallying to fight reopening of off-leash park
Neighbours against the proposed reopening of a pilot off-leash dog park are considering enlisting legal representation to make sure their voices are heard during an upcoming appeal.
The judicial review that could potentially reopen the off-leash area of Ledbury Park is scheduled for Oct. 4, 2012, and is closed to the public. With the appellants represented by a lawyer, residents such as Jan Petrook don’t want to be left “hanging in the wind.” Petrook said she and her neighbours have already approached the Toronto City Solicitor and will have held an informal meeting in late June to discuss getting their own lawyer.
“What we’re concerned about is nobody has any input in this, and they’re hoping to get the park back,” she said of the appellants, who won a Superior Court ruling to challenge the park’s closing.
The appellants claim the city’s decision to close the pilot park was illegal because it was made on the basis that an unresolved conflict arose among “park users.” They are hoping to reopen the pilot park on the technicality that neighbours whose homes abut Ledbury are not necessarily people who use the park.
The appellants had previously worked with neighbours to address noise concerns and even discussed a new location for the park.
“If it does revert back,” said Petrook, “we’ll sue the city.”
In her opinion, Ledbury Park has improved since the closing. “Now, the grass has come back. You see people walking their dogs with a leash — lovely,” she said.” It’s being used as it should have been used.”
The resident said the area is still being used for unleashed dog walking (which carries a fine of $250 from City of Toronto: Toronto Animal Services), something that Ward 16 councillor Karen Stintz said she finds unsurprising.
Stintz said the city itself will be well represented in the judicial review. She feels very strongly that it correctly closed the pilot park.
“We will be making a strong representation that we did operate within our authority,” she said. “My position is that it was a pilot, it was always supposed to be a pilot, and we have changed our policies as a result of that.“ City policy now prohibits off-leash parks abutting on residential property.