A new petition has begun circulating around the Columbia Valley, collecting the names of those who’d like to see a new off-leash dog park in the District of Invermere.
The petition was created by Jo-El Buerlen, in honour of her late husband Kenny Sorensen, who passed away on July 25 of 2010.
Sorensen had many interests and a great love for the Valley, but his greatest interest and love was for dogs.
“It frustrated both of us when we took our dogs down to the beach, and got strange looks and comments that dogs were not welcomed on the beach,” said Buerlen.
Sorensen had said, “If I win the lottery, I am going to buy the biggest piece of property and dedicate it to the dogs.”
Buerlen is determined to make Sorensen’s wish a reality.
The petition is already increasing its scope of circulation, and has garnered much support from various officials and groups in the community, such as ICAN.
“As it is being described to us, ICAN is behind this project and supports it,” said Susan Malone, volunteer at ICAN and board member.
“There are so many people supporting, it’s overwhelming,” said Buerlen, especially regarding the Facebook group page dedicated to the wanted dog park
Kenny’s Doggy Park, the name of the Facebook group, received over 50 supporters within an hour, and is still growing.
Buerlen stresses that the park should, ideally, have access to water so that dogs can run and swim to their hearts’ content.
An ideal plot of land, then, is an area south of Panorama Drive and the Toby Creek bridge, between the creek and the dike.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said Carol Dobson, dog control officer of Invermere for over eight years.
“It’s a good spot with lots of watering holes. I’ve walked down there every day for the past 14 years.”
District of Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft had been one of the first to propose the area near Toby Creek as a possible location for the park, should it become a reality.
“The area is presently used by a lot of dogs and dog lovers, it is in a very natural state, and there is, for most of the year, access to water,” said Taft.
There will be some challenges facing the proposed dog park, however.
The suggested land by Toby Creek is Crown land, meaning that it is owned by the provincial government.
The area will need to be investigated further, and, should the park be placed there, “will not be fenced”, according to Dobson.
“My sincere hope is that the group has the passion and enthusiasm that they seem to have to see this project investigated further in the shorter term, and that they also have the patience and determination to stick with the project until hopeful completion in the long term,” said Taft.
“I think it’s a great idea to get access to water, and I think Invermere really needs one, it’s something that’s been needed for a while,” said Sam Fiddler, dog control officer of Electoral Areas F, G, and the Village of Radium Hot Springs for over 15 years. “It’s healing for Jo-El too. Kenny was indeed a dog lover.”
Buerlen believes that the potential for a dog park does not just lie with Invermere, however.
Potential also rests in Windermere, Fairmont, Radium, and all throughout the Valley.
“It’s a great tool to let dogs socialize, exercise and just be themselves,” Buerlen said.
Petitions are currently at the Windermere Family Pantry, Choppers, the Vet Clinic, and Unleasehd Pet Care Services.
ICAN volunteers are busy circulating more copies throughout the Valley to collect signatures.
The Facebook group, Kenny’s Doggy Park, is still online and growing as well.
For more information, contact Jo-El Buerlen at firstname.lastname@example.org